Why Early Man getting furious over Kyoorius jury rejecting Jindal Steel film bad for the industry

The jury set a precedent for the future: one cannot get away with stealing work, entering it into awards, and receiving accolades without crediting the original creators, say industry veterans

Akansha Srivastava
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New Delhi: An Instagram post by Early Man Film announcing the withdrawal of all entries minutes before the Kyoorius Creative Awards raised more soul-searching questions for the creative industry.

On May 24, moments before the Kyoorius Creative Awards gala, the production house said, “Early Man has withdrawn all entries in film craft (including the ones that were shortlisted) from Kyoorius Creative Awards 2024. We were forced to take this drastic step…Our request to have our entries judged on the merit of the craft alone and not matters outside our purview was roundly ignored…This was a difficult decision, but we choose to be defined by our work and refuse to be dictated by vested interests.”

At the heart of the post is the controversy around Jindal Steel’s “Steel of India” campaign. had reported the Delhi High Court’s observations in its April 24 judgement 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.

However, the campaign was entered into the Kyoorius Creative Awards by Amrish Kondurkar studio, a creative boutique started by Wieden + Kennedy’s former employee Amrish Kondurkar, and Early Man. 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.

This essentially meant that Jindal Steel was allowed to run the TV and film campaign as it informed the court it committed Rs 50 crore to the media. W+K was also paid for against the campaign.

It implies that it was a W+K idea, the right of which was transferred to Jindal Steel after an amicable resolution of the matter. had also reported that the jurors of Kyoorius Creative Awards had put the campaign on hold for judging.

However, industry sources say that Kyoorius asked for specific information from the entrants after perusing the final HC verdict.

“Kyoorius sent all information received back to jury members and the jury chairs did not change their stance,” said a source.

Kyoorius founder and CEO Rajesh Kejriwal said, “We act as a facilitator. We presented all the documents pertaining to the matter, including legal opinions, papers submitted by Early Man Film, and the court case document between W+K and Jindal Steel, to the jurors. The jury asked for more specific information which has not yet been provided.”

“Kyoorius also informed the entrant that it was willing to make a first-ever exception and allow for the work to be re-judged once all the ambiguities around IPR and due credit were resolved publicly,” Kejriwal added.

The entries had Amrish Kondurkar studio in the column/field for “Creative Agency”.

However, the production house insisted that the work be judged on the basis of its craft, regardless of who the original ideator was.

When reached out to Anand Menon, Co-Founder of Early Man Film, he said, “We’ve said everything we want to in our Instagram post, and by withdrawing from the awards show, we have registered our protest at the treatment we received.”

People aware of the entries by Early Man told that the production house made close to 35 entries, out of which nearly a quarter were for Jindal Steel.

Early Man Film contended that it was unaware of the legal case between Jindal Steel and W+K and they acted in good faith and worked on the craft of the film.

“They wanted the entries to be judged based on their craft,” said an industry veteran aware of the matter.

“With this, the jury set a precedent for the future: one cannot get away with stealing work, entering it into awards, and receiving accolades without crediting the original creators,” said another industry veteran who chose to remain away from the controversy.

“How can anyone else, even a production house, enter without the original creators' approval, especially when they know it’s a disputed piece? What if such a thing happened to them? They themselves should have withdrawn the entries immediately after the Delhi High Court order for the sake of the industry. Instead, they stuck their neck out for something which is a massive pressing issue for the creative industry,” the veteran added.

Early Man’s Instagram post attracted sharp reactions such as “forced to remove the ad film because of politics”, “Kyoorius, is this how you give back”, “don’t need awards” and “Do hell with those heavy-duty blue elephants’ and many more such comments.

One of the industry veterans quoted above denounced Early Man’s reaction and termed it as an ego issue.

“Of course, it was an award-winning idea. Early Man is a fantastic production house and they did complete justice in producing the film. They might have entered the Jindal Steel campaign in many other awards such as ABBY’s and Cannes Lions. Disqualification from Kyoorius may scuttle their chances at other awards too. Plus, they might have in their head how dare Koorius disqualify the entries from Early Man which has won several international awards in the past. This sort of ego might have led to the knee-jerk reaction on Instagram,” added the industry veteran.

Rajesh Kejriwal creative industry Production house Wieden + Kennedy India Wieden and Kennedy India Film Craft Early Man Film Kyoorius Creative Awards 2024 Jindal Steel