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Eeswaran: OTT Platform Release on Hold As Tamil Nadu Theatre Owners Raise Piracy Concerns

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Still from Eeswaran Movie Poster

Eeswaran, the upcoming Tamil film starring Silambarasan and Niddhi Agerwal, will not release on the OTT platform Olyflix on January 14 on the day of its theatrical release. The film’s co-producers Madhav Media announced on Monday that due to piracy concerns raised by the Tamil Nadu Theatres Association, the film’s OTT platform release has been put on hold.

Speaking to Silverscreen India, one of Eeswaran’s producers Balaji Kapa said, “We first thought of releasing the film in countries where theatres are not running. But we cancelled it immediately after the Theatre Association told that they will be adversely affected. We were in talks to stream the film on premium video-on-demand in countries where theatres do not operate, like in the US, UK, and Canada. But we retracted our statement after the problem of piracy was brought up. It would have a negative impact on theatres here.”

The producer also confirmed that the film would not have an OTT release in the near future and will undergo routine distribution rights. He said, “We are in discussion with a few software companies to prevent piracy. Last night, too, we held a discussion with a new software company that would block around 85 sites, including Telegram. The discussion is still going on.”

On Monday, Madhav Media had announced that Eeswaran would release on the OTT platform Olyflix as video-on-demand outside India, on the day of its theatrical release.

However, the announcement was met with strong criticism from the Tamil Nadu Theatres Association, which said that an OTT platform release on the same day as a theatrical release would make it easy to be pirated.

In an audio statement, the general secretary of the Tamil Nadu Theatres Association, Panneerselvam, condemned the Eeswaran filmmakers’ move and said that the Association had decided not to cooperate with the film’s theatrical screening

“I came across unfortunate news this evening….It has been announced that Eeswaran will be streamed on an OTT platform on the same day as its theatre release….This [issue] is a matter of our survival. If we agree to such things, all subsequent films will follow suit. They have said that the film will only stream outside India. But even so, it will adversely affect the situation in India. So, even if you have entered into an agreement, do not worry. The association will take care of it. Hence, I request everyone to not co-operate with the [Eeswaran team’s] decision,” Panneerselvan said.

Within a few hours, Eeswaran‘s producers issued a statement to say that the film’s OTT platform release had been put on hold. The statement read, “Hope TN Theatre Association supports us by increasing the no. of screens.”

Srither S, joint secretary of the Tamil Nadu Theatres Association told Silverscreen India, “What Panneerselvam said is our collective decision. We will stand by that decision. The situation is critical. We are ready to cooperate with all the producers of all films but at the same time, we will never allow piracy in any shape by any production house. So we are expecting the producers of Eeswaran, which is a good film, to bring us a good compromise. We hope for the best.”

Even though Eeswaran‘s team has announced a hold on the film’s Olyflix release, Srither said the situation remained tense.

“We want a clear letter from the letterhead of the producer stating the same,” he said. According to Srither, the theatre owners’ piracy concerns are justified, as films streamed abroad can be illegally copied and streamed in India.

Eeswaran is produced by Balaji Kapa and KV Durai under the banners Madhav Media and D Company respectively.

Still from Eeswaran

GK Cinemas owner Ruban, who will be screening Eeswaran in his theatre, told Silverscreen India, “If films are released on OTT platforms simultaneously, then they become available online because of piracy. That’s why such methods should be avoided. Either it should be a theatrical release or through OTTs. They cannot have it both ways. This is our stand and it is as simple as that. We have no issues if they choose OTTs. Even if it is released abroad, they should take only one stand. Piracy cannot be controlled since many films that are released on OTTs are being circulated on Telegram a few hours before release. Even they can’t stop it.”

Eeswaran is slated to release in theatres on Thursday. This will be one of the first big releases for the Tamil film industry after a long spell of theatres being shut due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

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