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Piracy returns! Bollywood speaks up on the live streaming of Padmaavat

A Facebook page live-streamed some 80 minutes of Padmaavat from the theatre. This new-age menace shocks the industry, Besides appealing to fans to shun illegal content, Bollywood hopes for united action.

bollywood Updated: Jan 28, 2018 18:50 IST
Rishabh Suri
Rishabh Suri
Hindustan Times
The first 80 minutes of the Deepika Padukone-starrer Padmaavat was streamed live on Facebook.

Piracy and Bollywood films go hand in hand. Of course, we are not proud when we say this, but a film today is available online almost immediately after it is released.

While earlier, there were pirated DVDs, and then came online downloads, the latest way to make a film available is shocking, to put it aptly. A Facebook account holder used the ‘Facebook Live’ video streaming feature to broadcast Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat in real time, from the movie theatre. Yes! Later, the page had to delete the clip due to copyright infringement issues, but almost 80 minutes of this brand new film, right from the starting credits, had been viewed. The page admin even put out a picture later, and claimed that around 20,000 people had watched the film within the first hour; 15,000 people had shared the link; and almost 5 lakh people had become a part of it.

In this age of social media, first came ‘live tweets’ by film critics, who would tweet the happenings on the big screen in real time and keep movie fans updated. Now this ‘live streaming’ of a new film has shocked the industry. How does one combat this?

Shah Rukh Khan’s Raees topped the list of most pirated films in 2017.

Rahul Dholakia, director of Raees — it’s the most pirated Bollywood film of 2017, according to a recent survey — exclaims, “Oh hell! If this is going to be the way, then it’s really dangerous. Sooner or later, these people [who leak films] will even get good quality [of prints]. I remember, Raees’ pirated print was very good. We had to pull down 175 sites on the first day!”

He adds, “The producer doesn’t get revenues; it’s not fair. They put in their money and take risks, and the director spends time on quality. At the end of the day, when it’s not serving either purpose, you’re disappointed.” Akshay Kumar’s Jolly LLB 2 and Toilet: Ek Prem Katha also made it to the list of most pirated films.

Akshay Kumar’s films, the courtroom drama Jolly LLB 2 and Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, were heavily pirated.

Viacom18 Motion Pictures, co-producers of the Rs 190-crore film, Padmaavat, have taken some steps to curb this menace. They’re also hoping that viewers would help the film. They said in a statement given to us: “… [We] are urging viewers and fans to show their solidarity [with] the film, which has faced enough challenges, and not watch it on [an] illegal platform or through unauthorised means, but only across theatres.

“[We have] also sought [a] John Doe order from Madras High Court against any person or entity infringing the said film and directing all concerned to immediately block illegal websites/URLs hosting content related to the film. This would thereby restrain all unauthorised copying, transmission, communication, display, release, upload, download or exhibit of the film or part thereof in any manner.”

Trade expert Atul Mohan reasons, “For a film like Padmaavat, you would be stupid to watch it on a five-inch smartphone screen or even your computer. It’s meant to be enjoyed on the big screen in 3D.”

Producer-filmmaker Rakesh Roshan had a ‘stressful’ time when his film Kaabil, starring Hrithik Roshan (above), was leaked.

Sanjay Gupta, whose film Kaabil was the second most pirated film of 2017, feels that more than the director, it’s the producer who bears the burden of damages when a film is leaked. “Piracy affects a producer the most. I remember the stress Rakeshji (Roshan) went through, as he produced Kaabil. By the weekend, we had blocked more than 3,400 websites. Piracy has been there since the ’90s, because our film industry as a whole doesn’t come together. This problem is not rampant in the south, as the actors there have their fan clubs [who keep an eye on piracy] and there’s a producers’ association. We don’t have unity. There are four-five different associations [in Bollywood].”

Rather than blaming social media, he says, “This (Padmaavat) example clearly means that the security at the theatre had lapsed.”

Interact with the author on Twitter/ @RishabhSuri02

First Published: Jan 28, 2018 18:50 IST