The stage was set last week for the release of Sudeep’s big-budget film on wrestling. With a jaw-dropping budget and a stella cast, ‘Pailwaan’had everything going for it.
As the euphoria hit the audience, the film was pirated, and was available for free viewing. The piracy and the subsequent impact on the box office was blamed on the fans of another big star — Darshan.
While the links went viral, die-hard fans of the two stars clashed on Twitter. Soon, Sudeep and Darshan stepped in, posting tweets loaded with accusations, warnings, and threats of revenge and legal action. The stars didn’t name each other, but everyone knew who and what they were talking about. Finally, the matter went to the police and the cybercrime branch came into the picture.
A man called Rakesh Virat is now in police custody for leaking the film on Facebook. Police say he did it because he is a Darshan fan, and was out to ruin Sudeep’s big moment.
Swapna Krishna, producer of ‘Pailwaan’, says, “We learnt about the piracy on the day of the release. We don’t know how, when and where the film was pirated.”
TamilRockers, the name of a movie piracy site, began doing the rounds. But since it is based outside India, the police couldn’t do much. The film unit collected and submitted to the police 3,000 pirated links to the film. “And then the number went up to 9,000! This is one of the most pirated movies ever,” says Krishna. Talking about the Darshan angle, Krishna
says, “Honestly, no actor worth his salt would ask his fans to do something like this.” She attributes the crime to “crazy fandom that pushes people to do such stupid things.”
Sudeep is currently in Warsaw, shooting for ‘Kotigobba 3’, and has posted several tweets about the controversy. “The film took almost two-and-a-half years to make, and Sudeep is hurt it all had to play out like this,” Krishna says. D R Jairaj, president of Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce, says the government should go all out against piracy. “Filmmakers pay taxes and it is the government’s responsibility to protect them,” he says. Film pirates can now be booked under the stringent Goonda Act, but few are ever convicted, adds Jairaj.
“I learn ‘Pailwaan’ suffered a loss of about Rs 5 crore in a single day because of piracy,” he says.
Irked by the messages by Darshan’s fans on Twitter, Sudeep tweeted: “Me and my friends have not worn bangles (bale) on our hands, but a kadaga. I know nothing but cinema. People have tested both my patience and silence. They have put in all their efforts to destroy the hard work of the entire ‘Pailwaan’team. I assure that the people who are behind this won’t enjoy peaceful nights anymore.”
This tweet drew flak from all corners wherein people have admonished the superstar for writing sexist tweets. One Twitter user, Rakshith S Ponnathpur (@rsponnathpur), said, “That dialogue should’ve died its death in Rajkumar era. That it continues in Sudeep era is inexplicable. Look at your neighbours. They quote Periyar. They understand contemporary society & take a stand for their people. You can’t grow beyond your petty catfights & sexist comments (sic).”
When the news of piracy first broke, Darshan posted: “Right now, I am not in Bengaluru. I am busy shooting. Don’t try to provoke either my fans or celebrities.”
“Too many things are happening and it’s not sending good vibes to anyone. No one blamed a particular actor for piracy, nor were any names taken from the production side or me. Yes,
many were and are involved in spreading the piracy links n sharing it in a wild manner n speed, and those names have been shared wth the cyber police, which Wil be taken care of and finally things Wil come out. As for th letters n noises tat goin around,,, lets put an end to everythn. If a few feel good by poking fun at me n calling me names through an indirect letter, let it be. But jus remember tat I’m not gonna go down because of these things. (sic)”
Filmmakers are seeking professional help to curb piracy. Among the companies that provide 'content protection services' to the entertainment industry is Aiplex Software, based in Bengaluru.
Girish Kumar N, founder-managing director, says the company goes after those who infringe copyright. "We scan and scour the World Wide Web for pirated links and take them down by sending them notices and blocking them with the help of court orders," he says.
For 'Pailwaan', the number of pirated links is 10,962 and the compliance rate is 98.64 per cent," he reveals.
Piracy in Kannada films has been a growing worry over the past two years. Krishna attributes it to the advent of cheap bandwidth, and the ease of accessing social media. "Anybody can now post pirated content online," she says.
Filmmakers are holding discussions and will soon come up with concrete suggestions to curb piracy, she adds. Jairaj says young movie fans should be made aware of the criminal nature of the offence.
Girish bats for better implementation of rules to end piracy. "Watching pirated videos should also attract penalties," he says. Fans of big stars, mostly between 20 to 25, are completely unaware of piracy laws. They should be made aware of how much damage is caused by pirating films, he states.