In spite of theatres, piracy continues to plague the film industry. Almost every direct-to-OTT release has been leaked online for free download, and the latest case has taken things to a new level. Originally slated for an OTT release on July 30, Mimi got leaked four days early, forcing makers to change their plans. Director Laxman Utekar agrees with this statement.
‘We came to know in the morning that it was leaked. It was Dinu’s (producer Dinesh Vijan) birthday, and then July 27 was Kriti’s birthday, so we decided that we might as well take that as an opportunity,’ he tells us, explaining that it was ‘unbelievable’. Utkear states, ‘I don’t know how to describe it, or how do we track this thing. Kuchh samajh nahi aa raha iss baare mein’.
While an OTT release is not likely to affect the box office, it is nevertheless impacted by this threat. The pirate business has become easier now that pirates do not have to specifically go to theaters to record films, according to trade expert Atul Mohan. ‘Earlier, it might have taken two to three days, now it’s a day and date release. With platforms like Telegram, you don’t even have to download anything; all you have to do is search, go to the links and start watching. Streaming is possible with 4G,’ he explains, adding that what happened to Mimi was extreme.
As for its seriousness, Mohan feels that since it was leaked before the release, it may have been done by someone from the post-production studio, the OTT platform or the production company. Anand Pandit provides further insight into what the impact of piracy has been on the latest release. The Big Bull, his film, was leaked within hours of streaming on an OTT service.
The producer described it as dangerous, saying, ‘I could understand leakage points when we went to the movies earlier. Here, generally, the film goes directly from the producer to the OTT platform. I fail to understand how it can get leaked. In any case, any kind of piracy is the worst thing for the industry, I really condemn it. There are no major financial things involved. But still, somebody will get hit. It impacts the OTT partner. In our case, they took immediate action,’ says Pandit.
Utekar describes how such practices also affect the web space. It is not necessary to subscribe to an OTT platform if someone is getting to watch a movie for free. ‘It’s very harmful to the makers. Dinu is considering taking action. Let’s see what happens,’ he says.
Akshaye Rathi says the industry and law enforcement agencies have become too complacent in their fight against piracy. ‘At theatres, the collective viewing experience is affected. Piracy of web content involves consuming content through the same medium – mobiles and laptops. Consequently, piracy affects streaming platforms more severely than theaters,’ Rathi explains.