Abid Hussain Barlaskar

Matheno Films to initiate action against Citibank over 'copied' film

Citi's Diwali special ad film resembles a short film by the production house.

The storyline of BFSI brand Citibank India's latest ad film for Diwali 'Spread More Cheer This Diwali' resembles that of 'Cup of Tea', an acclaimed short film written and directed by Jitendra Rai, director Matheno Films.

The incident comes in light of the recent Ogilvy-Vivo spat that has been turning heads in the advertising industry.

The short film was released in 2017 as a fundraising campaign for children’s education and has been nominated and selected to be viewed at film festivals across the globe.

In the original film, 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 retrieve her bag. 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 box of cake and runs away, the lady chases down the boy to a group of children. The film endends with a warm celebration.

With the story line and narrative being similar, the makers of Cup of Tea, are initiating legal action against Citibank.

Commenting on the situation, Jitendra Rai, Director and Producer – Matheno Films, says “It is highly disappointing to see a brand of such caliber 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 to. We request the support of the creative community to not allow such practices where the scripts are merely lifted.”

Matheno Films is a creative partner of Schbang and the agency was involved in the process of submitting the film into multiple film festivals and onboarding brand partners for the original film at the time of launch. Commenting on the incident, Harshil Karia, Founder and MD – Schbang, says, “It is extremely unfortunate to see a large brand like this lift Jitendra’s (Rai) 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.”

We have reached out to the Citibank India Corporate Affairs team over an email and are awaiting comment. We will update the story once we receive response.

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