The writer and director of the 2017 short film, Cup of Tea, is pursuing legal action against Citibank over an ad created for its credit cards this Diwali.
Jitendra Rai claims that the ad has been directly lifted and reproduced from the scenes of his film.
In Rai's film (below), the video begins with a boy stealing a young woman’s bag and running through the village. The woman chases the boy in an attempt to get her bag back. The boy finally leads her to a huge group of people, leading to a warm heartfelt interaction.
Citibank’s narrative too is built on the same path, where the boy steals the lady’s cake and runs away, the lady too chases down the boy to a group of people, ending with an interaction.
Rai, who is the director and producer of Matheno Films, said: “It is highly disappointing to see a brand of such calibre create a film that is a direct copy of our film – Cup of Tea. We have engaged with Citibank by sending out a legal notice for which we are awaiting a response. We request the support of the creative community to not allow such practices where the scripts are merely lifted.”
Harshil Karia, founder and MD, Schbang, said, “It is extremely unfortunate to see a large brand like this lift Jitendra’s work. I hope this creates consciousness amongst the community. We will stand with the team of Cup of Tea to ensure it gets the justice required.”
Schbang was involved in the process of submitting the film into multiple film festivals across the world and in onboarding brand partners for the original film at the time of launch.
Cup of Tea was released in 2017 with an intention of raising funds for children’s education. The film has been selected to be viewed at over 120 film festivals across the globe and has also won 24 awards so far.
It's the second ad in a week to have drawn attention for similarities to previous films. Last week, Hong Kong adland pointed out the resemblance between a recent video posted by Cathay Pacific (and created by Publicis Hong Kong) and a film that Droga5 made for the auction house Christie's in 2017.
Campaign India has reached out to Citibank for its response, but did not hear back by time of publication.