How often do you find yourself wanting to see a film before the release date? Would you pay for a pirated copy of a movie that hasn’t been released? Well, it’s men like Durgadas Bhakta, Business Development Manager at Adlabs Processing at Film City, who try to make it possible. Bhakta had stolen the master print of Ashutosh Gowariker’s What’s Your Raashee?, the hotly anticipated Priyanka Chopra-starrer which opens this Friday, and was selling copies to interested buyers for Rs. 2 lakhs!
Gowariker, who has just returned from a well-received screening of the film at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival – the festival where Slumdog Millionaire won top honors, discovered the master print of his latest work missing. He notified the police, who tracked down Bhakta and four accomplices. They also recovered a large cache of pirated DVDs and VCDs.
Pirated works have been a sore spot for Bollywood producers for many years, but with as criminal gangs find the transportation of intellectual property more profitable and less dangerous than drugs or other contraband, the problem has gotten worse. Speaking to Anjana Pasricha from the Voice of America last year, Chandra Lall, who represents the American Motion Pictures Association in India says, “[The police] have realized that copyright piracy has almost 800 percent profit margins. So all [criminal] elements who [were] indulging in heinous crimes are all now dealing with pirated software and pirating copyright works. So there is a change.” An Ernst & Young report on ‘The Effects of Counterfeiting and Piracy on India’s Entertainment Industry’ tells that the Indian film industry lost $959 million due to piracy in 2008.
Awareness is being raised and it’s not just the ads shown before the main feature on honestly purchased DVDs. Just earlier this month, the Motion Picture Association of America launched a partnered initiative with the Indian multiplexes to raise awareness of camcorder piracy.