Cannes Lions embroils in controversy over 'disputed' Jindal Steel's "Steel of India" film

The film, entered by Early Man Film, was shortlisted in the Film Craft category on Saturday and the winners in this category will be announced on Tuesday

Akansha Srivastava
Updated On
New Update
Listen to this article
0.75x 1x 1.5x
00:00 / 00:00

Cannes: The disputed Jindal Steel’s “Steel of India” film making it to the shortlist at the Cannes Lions 2024 took the Indian creative fraternity by surprise. 

The film, entered by Indian production house Early Man Film, was shortlisted in the Film Craft category on Saturday and the winners in this category will be announced on Tuesday.

While the campaign was entered by Early Man Film, the entry mentioned Kondurkar Studio, a creative boutique started by Wieden + Kennedy’s former employee Amrish Kondurkar, in the idea creation field.

To set the context, the Delhi High Court in its April 24 judgement observed that the campaign was prima facie similar to the idea presented by Wieden + Kennedy.

“The launch by the respondent (Jindal Steel) of the new campaign prima facie seemed to be substantially based on a similar theme, expressed through a montage of sequential images and videos stitched together by a soundscape of steel,” the Delhi High Court said in its April 24 order, adding that the choice of elements from the elements bucket provided by the petitioner (Wieden + Kennedy) to the respondent are substantially the same. had also reported that Jindal Steel and Wieden + Kennedy informed the Delhi High Court on May 8 that they settled their disputes amicably, following which the application was dismissed.

What Cannes Lions has to say?

In an informal discussion with, Cannes Lions organisers said that they came to know about the dispute over the work last week and they are in talks with both the parties – Early Man Film and W+K.

“We are looking into claims and counter-claims along with the litigation attached to it and a decision on this will be made soon,” a senior executive handling the awards told

Defence from Early Man Film

Early Man Film told the organisers of the Cannes Lions that there was an out-of-court settlement in the case and hence it is no longer a disputed work.

While Early Man Film submitted the letter signed by the client to the Cannes Lions, credit given to Kondurkar Studio for idea creation hints that the out-of-court settlement was done after the work was entered for judging.

Like any other commercial dispute, this case too had a logical end via out-of-court settlement after arbitration ordered by the Delhi High Court.

According to the sources privy to the details, Jindal Steel was allowed to run the TV and film campaign as it informed the court it committed Rs 50 crore to the media after it agreed to pay the full fees to W+K.

At the same time, the final transaction between the two parties did not mention the transfer of the IP right or eligibility to enter the film into any award function.

Moreover, the said settlement is proof that it was a W+K idea and the mention of Kondurkar Studio as an idea creation agency is wrong by all means.

A litmus test for Cannes Lions

Reacting to the controversy that erupted right before the festival, many industry leaders present at Cannes Lions told that either the organisers will have to amend the idea creation agency name from Kondurkar Studio to W+K India or refuse to award the entry.

“The general perception about any settlement in the commercial dispute between an agency and client is that the client would own the IP rights of the idea. But in this case, the client was given the right to run the campaign without any mention of the right to enter the campaign into any award function. Even if Jindal Steel was the entrant, they could not write Kondurkar Studio as an idea creation agency. Cannes Lions has always held the high ground by rejecting such work and I’m sure the organisers will take a considered decision,” said an industry veteran who did not want to be named.

Another industry stalwart from India attending the Cannes Lions told that the creative industry is full of such examples of plagiarised or stolen work.

“Had I been at the receiving end, I would have let it go. But I must give credit to the W+K leadership for setting an example for the future of the industry. One cannot take refuge in an out-of-court settlement especially when the settlement was done after the entry was made to the Cannes Lions. The mention of Kondurkar Studio as an idea creation agency clearly indicates this. Here, Early Man is trying to make their investment work by saying the dispute is over due to an amicable solution but awarding such practices would only harm the reputation of Cannes Lions,” the industry stalwart said.


Wieden + Kennedy India Jindal Steel Early Man Film Cannes Lions 2024