Jindal, Kondurkar overlook HC order as “Steel of India” wins at Cannes Lions

All the stakeholders of the campaign, who were otherwise silent until the announcement of the award, started peddling their narrative while putting aside the court order, facts and logic

Akansha Srivastava
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New Delhi: "The Steel of India” film conceptualised by Wieden + Kennedy India, as a recent Delhi High Court order followed by an out-of-court settlement suggest, went on to win a Silver and a Bronze Lion in the Film Craft category at Cannes Lions 2024 last week.

The campaign was entered by Early Man Film mentioning Kondurkar Studio in the idea creation column purportedly backed by the client’s letter, a compulsory criterion to enter into the Cannes Lions Awards.

The HC order clearly stated that the launch by the respondent (Jindal Steel) of 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 choice of elements from the elements bucket provided by the petitioner to the respondent, as has been extracted in para 8.4 above are substantially the same, said the HC order.

However, Cannes Lions found an escape route in the letter signed by the client. 

Stating their position on awarding a ‘disputed’ piece of work, the organisers of Cannes Lions told that all awards submissions have to satisfy our entry criteria. 

“Jindal Steel - The Steel Of India satisfied our entry criteria. We are aware of the dispute and are in contact with all parties but as the awards organisers it is not our place to pass judgement on the situation as this is between the parties involved,” Cannes Lions said.

With the controversial decision to award a copied piece of work as per the Delhi High Court order, Cannes Lions opened the Pandora box. 

All the stakeholders of the campaign, who were otherwise silent until the announcement of the award, started peddling their narrative while putting aside the court order, facts and logic.

While W+K told a couple of media outlets to refer to the Delhi High Court order, Jindal Steel, who bought IP rights from W+K against the payment of full fees through an out-of-court settlement, made a bizarre statement to the Economic Times that the credits rest with Kondurkar Studio.

This comment gives another reason to W+K to drag Jindal Steel to the court for giving credit to someone else for a work that was adjudged as copied by the Delhi High Court.

Jindal Steel, whose chairman Naveen Jindal recently won the Lok Sabha election on a BJP ticket from Kurukshetra in Haryana, allegedly tried to peddle the narrative of local vs foreign agency.

Jindal Steel assumed that the industry would buy narrative despite the fact that it worked with the same foreign agency for multiple campaigns.

Kondurkar Studio, which jumped the bandwagon to release a statement after the awards, also tried to peddle a similar narrative of larger vs boutique agencies.

In doing so, Kondurkar Studio missed the point that their effort may not bear any fruits as W+K India CCO Santosh Padhi himself is the flag bearer of independent and boutique agencies. 

"In recent weeks, Kondurkar Studio and its founder, Mr. Amrish Kondurkar, have been subjected to a wave of negative, unfounded and unsubstantiated media coverage regarding the "The Steel of India" campaign. Mr. Kondurkar embarked on an independent journey with integrity and creativity, dedicating his talents to creating original and impactful work. Despite his commendable efforts, he and his studio are being unfairly targeted by a larger competitor in the industry, under the pretext of bizarre accusations of copyright infringement and lack of originality,” the statement from Kondurkar Studio read. 

Considering media coverage on this issue was single-handedly carried out by, it is the duty of the publication to respond to the whimsical defence made out by the Kondurkar Studio. in its stories remained focused on the High Court judgment which found the idea presented by W+K to Jindal Steel and the final film similar, implying that it was a copied or stolen work.

Reference to the Kondurkar Studio has been limited to the fact that it worked on the brief given by the client in July 2023, when W+K was about to deliver the final film.

“We had no prior knowledge of anything that the larger agency might have earlier shared with our client. It is worth noting that Mr. Amrish Kondurkar, our founder, left his previous role in January 2023, and our client reached out to them for a pitch in late July 2023, well after his departure, negating any overlap or claim of idea theft,” the statement from Kondurkar Studio added.

Moreover, another reference was made with respect to the fact that Amrish Kondurkar was a former employee of W+K India.

In effect, HC order said Jindal Steel film was similar to the idea presented by W+K. This implied Jindal Steel gave the brief to Kondurkar Studio to replicate what was presented by W+K. Even after the HC order, Kondurkar Studio is blatantly bragging about original work instead of considering it as a blot on the career of the agency.

The fact is that the client bought the idea and copyright of the work from W+K India and that’s where the out-of-court settlement happened. 

If W+K’s work wasn’t original or if they were not original creator why would Jindal get into a settlement post the Delhi High Court verdict?

Kondurkar Studio’s statement added that this is a montage film, a genre that involves creating a narrative from various shots and scenes. 

“The brief was always to celebrate the power of steel and the resilience of India. Hence, any montage film on India and Steel will naturally portray these themes. To claim copyright infringement on such a basis is not only baseless but also a stretch of the imagination,” the statement said.

In this case, Kondurkar Studio must challenge the Delhi High Court verdict instead of peddling a narrative.

“The allegations are supported by misrepresented screenshots that arrange shots from various sources to falsely suggest direct copying,” said Kondurkar Studio. “However, a 2-minute film is much more substantial than a few misleading screenshots added to create a narrative post-final film creation.”
This part of the statement appears to be random holding no value whatsoever.

W+K had presented 3 scratch films to Jindal Steel and out of 42 similar sequences and a list of many situations/cohorts shared by W+K listed on page 19 of the verdict, the Delhi High Court has printed just 24 images of W+K’s campaign to let the world know how blatantly it has been copied.

The Delhi High Court, after thorough adjudication, found no wrongdoing on the part of Kondurkar Studio, the statement claimed.

Without going into why Kondurkar Studio is giving itself a clean chit, it is necessary to mention that the case was between W+K and Jindal Steel. 

Kondurkar Studio was not made an accused or a party to the case. So there is no question of HC finding no wrongdoing on the party of Kondurkar Studio.
“After dedicating years to building a reputation for integrity and creativity, it is disheartening to face such baseless allegations. Mr. Kondurkar’s transition to an independent path was driven by a desire to pursue creative freedom and innovation. It is unfortunate and unjust for his reputation to be attacked by unfounded allegations from larger industry competitors,” the statement from Kondurkar Studio said. did not find anyone accusing or alleging Kondurkar, except for the fact that Kondurkar made himself relevant by jumping into the controversy.

The statement ended with expecting morality from the media instead. 

“We urge all media houses to refrain from publishing reports without hearing our side of the story. It is expected that media houses maintain journalistic integrity and post unbiased stories. As responsible professionals, we ask that you verify facts before printing and avoid blindly supporting larger agencies at the expense of independent creators. Kondurkar Studio remains dedicated to delivering innovative and original creative solutions while upholding the highest ethical standards,” Kondurkar Studio concluded. expects Kondurkar Studio will find this story fully representing their statement.

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