Major Hindi film piracy racket busted; officials arrested

MUMBAI: The Joint Commissioner of Police (crime branch) Rakesh Maria has stepped on the gas to nab Hindi movie pirates. In one of the major breakthroughs of all time, the Mumbai police have nabbed professionals from UFO Moviez, BIG Cinemas, Adlabs and Shemaroo Entertainment who were involved in a movie piracy racket.

The said officials were found with pirated prints of yet to be released Hindi movies like UTV Motion Pictures’ What’s Your Raashee? and Anjum Rizwi’s Fast Forward. The cops have arrested UFO Moviez associate vice president – digital mastering Rajesh Chowdhry, Reliance Big Cinemas manager of overseas distribution Neerav Shah, Adlabs Processing manager Durgadas Bhakta and Shemaroo Entertainment head of overseas distribution Kalapi Nagda. As soon as this racket came to light, UFO Moviez sacked Chowdhry with immediate effect.

Additionally, UTV Motion Pictures has also sent legal notices to UFO Moviez and Adlabs demanding a compensation of Rs 500 million (Rs 50 crore) each for the damage that may have been incurred due to piracy of What’s Your Rashee? Moreover, In the light of this development, the premiere of the movie has also been cancelled.

In an official statement, Reliance Big Pictures said, "Anybody found guilty of any wrongdoing as far as the law of the country is concerned, will be strictly dealt with." 

As was reported by Businessofcinema.com, audio and video piracy was brought under the Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities Act (MPDA) in July this year. This is the first major breakthrough after the act was implemented. With this new legislation in place, the police is now empowered to book people involved in piracy under the MPDA, wherein an offender can be detained and sent to jail for a period of one year.

UFO Moviez spokesman Charuhas Satam said that as per Maria, its employee Chowdhry was acting independently without the knowledge of the company.

"UFO Moviez India is founded on the fundamental principal of eliminating piracy from the film industry. Because of the technology developed by the company it has become possible for the film producers to release the movies first day first show even in the smallest and remotest possible town in the country and thereby reducing the demand for pirated CDs / DVDs. The company also helped the crime branch to bust a similar piracy racket in Gujarat with the help of its watermarking technology by pointing out the exact cinema hall where the pirated CDs of Tashan were being made," said Satam.

Additionally UFO Moviez has also assured the producers’ fraternity that their business interests and intellectual property are of paramount importance. According to information revealed by the culprits to the police, at least 11 movies have been so far pirated by this gang and sent to Pakistan before their release over the last six months.

While this comes as a major shock to the industry, it is in more ways than one a relief. After a lackluster 2009 so far due to various reasons, big budget movies are now slated to release in the last quarter of this calendar year. With this racket coming to light, chances are that the pirates will lie low for the time being due to vigilance of the Mumbai police and hence the illegal trade of new movies will be curbed to an extent.

Some of the big movies that are slated to release over the next four – six months are Dharma Productions’ Wake Up Sid starring Ranbir Kapoor, Shree Ashtavinayak Cine Vision’s Blue starring Akshay Kumar and Sanjay Dutt, Ajay Devgn Ffilms’ All The Best starring Devgan, Sanjay Dutt and Fardeen Khan, UTV Motion Pictures’ Main Aurr Mrs Khanna starring Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor, Vipul Shah’s London Dreams starring Salman Khan and Ajay Devgan, Tips Films’ Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani starring Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif, Ken Ghosh’s Chance Pe Dance starring Shahid Kapur and Genelia D’Souza, Yash Raj Films’ Pyaar Impossible starring Priyanka Chopra and Uday Chopra, Madhur Bhandarkar’s Jail starring Neil Nitin Mukesh and Mugdha Godse, Rensil D’Silva’s Kurbaan starring Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor and Vivek Oberoi, Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s 3 Idiots starring Aamir Khan, R Madhavan, Kareena Kapoor and Sharman Joshi, Rakesh Roshan’s Kites starring Hrithik Roshan, Kangana Ranaut and Barbara Mori and Karan Johar’s My Name Is Khan starring Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol amongst others.

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