Last Friday, a group of journalists had gathered in a room on the fourth floor of the South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce. The room, one of the four on this floor, sits across a large open terrace. The group had waited for over 2 hours, and frustration writ large on their faces, they killed time discussing movie piracy in the country. “”You go to Burma Bazaar,” one of them announced helpfully, “and you’ll find any movie you want there for 30 rupees.”
A meeting between Tamil movie producers, actors and theater owners was going on in one of the conference rooms on the floor, Kalaipuli S Thanu, the well-known Tamil movie producer, had called the meeting to devise a strategy to combat piracy. Movie piracy has been in the news last week, due to bootlegged copies of the Hindi movie Udta Punjab becoming available on the internet on Wednesday.
At 1 PM, the actor Vishal, who is also the General Secretary of the Nadigar Sangam – a union for film, television and stage actors – emerged out of the conference room alone. Vishal has been a vocal anti-piracy campaigner, and has had his differences with Thanu on how the Producers council was handling the issue. “It’s time we take steps against piracy. Every new film releases on Friday in theatres and by Friday afternoon, the pirated version is out. It’s not just down south or a particular area, it happens in every theatre,” he said, striking a familiar refrain.
“After discussions, ” he continued, “we have decided to take actions against the mother source of piracy. We will trace where the pirates got the film from and curb them. We’ve taken a decision that if any theatre gets caught, based on analysis reports, we will take severe action, like a life ban. I don’t know how many years or months it will take to combat piracy, but this will be the first step.”
Meanwhile, the other producers and theatre owners were unavailable for a comment, remaining inside the conference hall to discuss other pressing issues.