HAS THE RECENT ONLINE CENSORCOPY LEAK OF UDTA PUNJAB RUNG ALARM BELLS IN THE INDUSTRY?

A week ago when the censor copy of Udta Punjab was leaked online two days prior to its release, it sent shock waves in the industry. Harried producers whose films were due for censorship spent sleepless nights worrying about the possibility of their films surfacing online before their release, with their hard work and investment going down the drain. A section of filmmakers and a former censor board member voiced their opinions on the development.

By Manishaa R

GANESH JAIN:  
It is impossible that the copy of Udta Punjab or for that matter any other film can be leaked in CBFC office. Also when a film goes for censorship, the producer carries the CD or DVD with him, whenever it is required for screening. Do you think anyone will leave his film worth crores of rupees in someone else’s hands? We have released 50 films from our banner so far and we have never experienced something like this so far. I guess this could have happened when the film was in transit or during transfer. Ideally the makers should have take adequate precautions.
 
 
Ketan Mehta (Director-The Mountain Man):  
I suppose we should let the cops do their investigation thoroughly into this incident. At this stage, whatever we say would merely be a conjecture. However, the fact remains that it is certainly a very big threat to the industry. I had experienced this problem of online piracy prior to the release of my film, The Mountain Man. The producers faced substantial losses and it also damaged the prospects of the film. It is very important to track down this problem and work out a solution to it.

 
 
 
Kumar Taurani (Producer):  
I wouldn’t know whether the CBFC can be held solely responsible for this. The censor copy which surfaced online could have leaked from the studio, in transit or directly from the Censor Board. There should be a thorough inquiry into the incident but I don’t see any reason why it should cause insecurity among producers. To the best of my knowledge, the DVDs submitted by producers to CBFC are all properly sealed. Also when a producer makes a copy to be shown to the Censor Board, the name censor will naturally appear on it. It does not necessarily imply that the online leak has come from the CBFC. Producers also need to be doubly cautious that no one plays mischief during the transit and the transfer of film on to a particular format.

 
 
Sudhir Mishra (Producer-director): 
The Cyber Cell is currently investigating into the incident about how the Censor Copy got leaked. Ideally the police should get to the bottom of the problem since this is happening far too often. Also I don’t understand why there is any need for filmmakers to leave a copy of their film behind in the CBFC office. If the CBFC members have objections, the producer should be asked to bring the copy again. In this day and age it is appalling that such incidents are happening. I remember one of my films, Tera Kya Hoga Johny, had surfaced online before its release but that wasn’t the censor copy. Nevertheless it caused us endless anxity.
 
 
 
Rajkumar Akela (Honorary Chairman of Anti-Piracy cell, TFCC) :  
The incident of Udta Punjab is a matter of huge concern, considering the irreparable damage such things can cause to the film and its entire business possibilities. It is all the more alarming since this is not the first time an online censor copy has been leaked. From the Telugu Film Chambers of Commerce we assisted in tracking the link after it was uploaded online. Some 4000 odd links were taken off but by that time the film had gone viral. I remember there was another instance of a Malayalam film, Premam, of which the censor copy was leaked not so long ago. There was a huge outrage after the film was leaked. There have been several other instances in the recent past too. Piracy is a very big threat to the business of films and this particular instance has added another dimension to the problem. I think it is very important to have proper security in place to ensure that such instances do not recur.
 
 
Sachin Joshi (Producer):  
It has definitely caused increased security concerns among filmmakers in the industry. While it is important to track down how the censor copy was
leaked online, there have been cases of films being leaked in the post-production process too. If you look at the state of affairs today, the pirated versions of a majority of films are released online on the same day or a day prior to their theatrical release. Fortunately the online leak of Udta Punjab did not affect its opening day collections but the smaller films can get completely destroyed in such an eventuality. The ones who are involved in this trade do not realise that they are damaging the business of films to the tune of crores of rupees just for the sake of a few lakhs. I guess we need to have strong security measures and laws in place to protect the interests of the producer. The digital world is so fast that after something is leaked online, it is next to impossible to stop it. Even in the case of my film, Veerappan, the pirated version of the film appeared online on the day of its release. I was shocked when people called me up from Canada and America and told me that they had seen the film online on the very first day of its release. It is sad that all the hard work and the money go for a toss and the potential of a film is only half- exploited due to the piracy problem.
 
 
Sarita Singh (Former CBFC member and current Head of Carnival Motion Pictures) :  
It is definitely a matter of great concern for the entire film fraternity, especially since this is happening far too often. It is a well-known fact
that films involving high sexual content, drug abuse or anything highly controversial, are in great demand in the digital and online international space. It is a big mafia and the money involved is to the tune of millions of rupees. In the case of Udta Punjab, the movie was in the eye of a storm for a long time and there was added curiosity about the film after it was denied certification. Also the film went through several hands while it was repeatedly screened for various committees. All the same, I doubt whether the censor copy leak has anything to do with the higher authorities of CBFC as these things take place on a lower level. When a film comes up for screening, there are so many other people involved in the process including the people in the projection room, the operator and others. Knowing that CBFC is a Government body and Government sectors are highly corrupt, it cannot be ruled out that films going through the process of censorship are vulnerable to many possibilities. Ideally they should have security cameras everywhere from the operating room to the screening room. These days even small offices have cameras and this should be done on a priority basis. However the best alternative is to privatise CBFC. Right now, the entire system is flawed and there is no control over anything.

 

 

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