MUMBAI: The first major breakthrough after audio-visual piracy was brought under the Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities Act (MPDA), has brought out shocking facts to light. Filmmakers have taken various measures to stop pirating of films and music but have been unsuccessful in eradicating it completely. However, it now looks like things are headed for the better with the recent nabbing of professionals from some of the biggest companies in the Hindi film industry.
As reported earlier by Businessofcinema.com, those involved in the racket were senior professionals from UFO Moviez, BIG Cinemas, Adlabs and Shemaroo Entertainment. Though the piracy racket always existed, until now there were no indication of professionals working in corporate houses being involved.
Speaking to Businessofcinema.com on this grave issue, producer – director Mahesh Bhatt says, "The illusion of safety has been shattered. What is to be understood is that the ground of piracy is Bollywood and not some lanes of Karachi. Unless we look at the rot within, we will not be able to move an inch. The industry needs to wake up and get together and deal with all the issues of piracy."
Producer Boney Kapoor, a victim of piracy with his recent hit – Wanted being pirated, says, "It is an alarming situation and has put a scare in the industry. One cannot really trust these so called corporate houses because some of the culprits worked there. They have played with projects worth Rs 40 – 50 crores for a few lakh of Rupees. All the loose ends need to be tightened, the industry has to come together to fight this. Proper security and care has to be taken for anything to go out of hand. This is a major aspect that needs to be addressed."
However, director Rensil D’Silva, whose film Kurbaan starring Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor is on the threshold of release, feels it’s too early to comment about the racket. He said, "These are some of the companies I work with and I would not like to comment on it right now until the matter is solved."
Giving his take on the issue, Motion Picture Dist. Association (India) managing director Rajiv Dalal opines, "The take down of this organized pirate syndicate has not only cut off a major print theft source, but has also reinforce the findings of the RAND report on ‘Film Piracy, Organized Crime, and Terrorism’ that detailed strong links between film piracy and organized crime/terrorist funding in both India and Pakistan. Such sustained efforts by Chief Rakesh Maria and the Mumbai Crime Branch to reveal this intricate operation are impactful to say the least, but would not have been possible without recently passed legislation placing film piracy offenses under the Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities Act. The results of this enforcement action are indeed timely, as other state governments such as the Delhi/NCR government are considering similar film piracy/organized crime legislation."
Reacting to the reports that Kalapi Nagda, an employee of Shemaroo Entertainment, is allegedly involved in the movie piracy racket and has been arrested by the crime branch of the Mumbai police, Shemaroo Entertainment director Hiren Gada informs, "The company has nothing to do with the incident and strongly condemns all such illegal activities. Shemaroo has very strong ethics and we do not endorse the actions taken by the concerned employee in his personal capacity. We have terminated his employment with immediate effect. We also hope that those found guilty will be strictly dealt with as per the laws of the country. The company will be cooperating with the authorities in this matter."
Reliance Big Entertainment chairman Amit Khanna adds, "We welcome the steps taken by the Mumbai police led by Joint Commissioner of Police (Mumbai Police) Rakesh Maria to nab the culprits involved in the piracy racket. Reliance BIG Entertainment and Adlabs are committed to root out this evil. We, being a part of this film industry will continue to support all efforts by the government and the industry in this regard. We would like to reassure the film fraternity and the law enforcement agency that we have the most stringent security measures in place. In fact Adlabs is the only laboratory in India which is recognized by FACT (Federation Against Copy Right Theft), UK. We shall take all appropriate legal actions against any person or persons in the organization found guilty of any lapse or misconduct. Piracy is eating away a substantial chunk of the legitimate revenues of the entertainment industry & Reliance ADA group stands committed to fight this evil."
While we have only just scratched the tip of this entire nexus, in order to curb piracy and protect intellectual property, this anti-piracy drive cannot be a one-off activity. Only a sustained and dedicated effort is going to help eradicate the menace.