The Bollywood Piracy

By , posted 15 October 2007

The phrase "Bollywood" sounds phony. For those fresh to this spurious phrase, it is the pseudo name gloss to the Mumbai Hindi film industry; a simulated pirated version of the American movie industry - Hollywood. Piracy in Mumbai film industry starts from here itself.

Piracy in the Mumbai film industry is three-fold. Firstly, it is the outright sale of VCDs and DVDs without the rights in the black market. Secondly, stealing of concepts, stories or song tunes by the movie industry itself from external sources without giving due credit or royalties to the original creator. Thirdly, the piracy in body packaging.

A few years back I was traveling by train and a pretentious hawker came with his stack of pirated VCDs. I was flabbergasted on seeing some VCDs of films which has been in the news for a while hyped and exulted by the novel treatment of the film and the gargantuan presence of one of the superstar of the country. So I keenly bought two films right away.
On reaching home, my friends divulged that the films are yet to be released. When I played it in my computer, there was an amusing music track of some weird sounds. That was my first lesson of how pirates release films in the market ahead of a film’s completion. But the gospel truth is also that VCDs or DVDs are available on the market sometimes on the day of the film’s release itself.

Even in a place like Mumbai, the hub of the industry where the inane voices by the industry people to stop piracy is the loudest, you will see small time vendors and hawkers sprawling all over the place selling the latest releases of Hollywood and Indian film VCDs and DVDs. DVDs are easily available between one to two dollars. And in that price, you get to see four films as a pirated DVD often comes endowed with 4 films. But an original DVD will cost you 10-20 dollars in a proper DVD store.

In an aggressive supply situation where more films are being release every Friday and the rocketing prices of theatre tickets, movie piracy will continue to boom. The film fraternity at tedious intervals makes a hue and cry from their posh flats or apartments through the media but the reality of the black market will rule the roost.

I esteem the film piracy industry for more than one reason:
I save lots of money.
I get to see so many and all kinds of movies from across the globe.
Pirated movies are easily available.

Can the Corporates give me that?

The most successful film running in theaters these days in Mumbai, "PARTNER" is outrageously lifted from the Hollywood comedy flick "HITCH". A small budget successful film BHEJA FRY is a copy of the French film "THE IDIOTS".

Another option the Mumbai film Producers or directors opt for is to plunge down South India hunting for remakes or to steal new ideas. The South Indian film industry generates larger and superior films in their regional languages Tamil, Telugu or Malayalam than the Mumbai industry. I guess the main reason behind this marvelous phenomenon is that they dare to explore & experiment often flushing out innovative stories. The Mumbai folks often relegate to playing safe. And consequently, winds up making copies of other successful films.

A few months back, a band called "GUITARA" from the United Arab Emirates came to sue a Mumbai film music composer for lifting one of their song tunes in a film. But nothing ensued out of it except some media buzz. A set of the Mumbai music composers source their tunes from some unknown world like the Arabs, Africa or even from the regional small time composers. I believe they have ceased believing in themselves, in their music composition.

Pirated silicon boobs, pirated eyes and pirated hairs, some of the top Mumbai stars survive on pirated body parts. A cosmetic surgeon made a public outcry in the media revealing one of the top stars with the sex-bomb tag hasn't paid the fees for her breast transplantation.

An Indian actor/singer/composer never leaves his baseball cap. It's not his predominant style statement. The truth is his forehead is bald. I heard he is planning to transplant pirated hairs and his prized cap will bid him goodbye soon.

Piracy booms in Mumbai just because of one factor "Survival". But it turns into vice when people do it at the primal cost of somebody else's rights. Anybody copying somebody's story or music tunes should give proper credit to the original creator. This cures all the superfluous hassles and the robber/gangster tag. I have watched a plethora of Hollywood films with the credits "INSPIRED BY AKIRA KUROSAVA'S SCREENPLAY" from such and such a film. This makes stealing or exploiting somebody's work more noble.

Moserbaer, a company that used to manufacture blank CDs and DVDs has started shelling out original movie VCDs and DVDs at the piracy market prices which is a good strategy. Of course, their ultra motive must have been to capture the market and not to beat piracy. T-Series, a top ranking music and film company followed suit by cutting down their prices to beat the competition. These are positive trends that would definitely help the industry reduce movie piracy and consequently garner more returns. I recently bought an Indian blockbuster with the T-Series company logo. The price tag met every consumers needs "save money".

The writer is based in India. You can write to him at cinema.india@hotmail.com or
check his community website www.myspace.com/oinamdoren

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