Piracy returns to Bollywood with live streaming of Padmaavat
As Bollywood has evolved, so have film pirates. The practice of leaking a film and stripping producers of revenue has found new vehicles over the decades — after pirated DVDS, and online downloads, we now have the unfortunate phenomenon of live-streaming. The first 80 minutes of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat was live-streamed, from a movie theatre, through the Facebook Live video streaming feature. The clip was later deleted, but as per the page admin, 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.
GOOD QUALITY PIRATED PRINTS
How does one combat this? 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 talks of what a letdown this is for producers and directors, who spend their money and time, respectively, on making the best film they can.
Akshay Kumar’s Jolly LLB 2 and Toilet: Ek Prem Katha also made it to the list of most pirated films of 2017.
The studio that backed Padmaavat, which cost ₹190 crore to make, has taken some steps to curb this menace. It has sought a court order to act against any attempt to illegally show the film; they’re also asking viewers to 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 watch it only in theatres.”
Trade expert Atul Mohan
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!
RAHUL DHOLAKIA, FILM
reasons, “For a film like Padmaavat, you would be stupid to watch it on a fiveinch smartphone screen or even your computer. It’s meant to be enjoyed on the big screen in 3D.”
PRODUCERS, THE REAL VICTIMS
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; film-maker] went through, as he produced Kaabil. By the weekend, we had blocked more than 3,400 websites. 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 there. We don’t have unity here. There are four to five different associations in Bollywood.”
However, rather than blaming social media, Gupta says that Padmaavat’s example “clearly means that the security at the theatre had lapsed”.
A still from Raees
A still from Jolly LLB 2
A still from Padmaavat
A still from Kaabil