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Industry Report: Focus: Asia & Oceania

Film fraternity pledges fight against piracy


- While the Bengali film industry is going through resurgence, there are various issues plaguing it. Not only are Bengali films and songs being pirated, movie theatres across the state are also closing down at an alarming rate. The Indian Chamber of Commerce organized a panel discussion at a city hotel on Saturday to get different viewpoints and find a solution to these problems. In attendance were luminaries from various walks of life - actors, directors, musicians, scriptwriters and industrialists who they appealed to the state government to bring in legislation to curb the practice.

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An earnest request to the state government to bring in legislation to stop piracy of Bengali movies, songs and inability to protect the closure of movie theatres across the state reverberated at the Indian Chamber of Commerce organized panel discussion in a city hotel on Saturday. Attended by luminaries from various walks of life, veteran actors, newbies, popular movie stars, directors, scriptwriters and musicians from Tollywood, the evening brought out the ailments wrecking the film industry as well as the reasons which have ensured a resurgence of the Bengali entertainment industry.

Srijit Mukherjee, director of films like Baishe Srabon, Autograph and Hemlock Society, said, "Three weeks after the release of my film Baishe Srabon, I was surprised to find the CD of the movie on the pavements of Gariahat. Though the seller was all praises for the movie, what pained me was that the pirated CD was available within such a short span of time. We lose huge revenue in this manner. There are legislations in Maharastra but not here."
Srijit's view was endorsed by Arijit Dutta, MD of Priya Entertainments. "Movies are made for theatres and not for the sitting rooms at home. There is yet a lot to be done by the state government who should make laws to stop piracy," Dutta said. Srijjit suggested fan club members to take to the streets to protest against piracy. "It is time to become aggressive about vernacular cinema as is the case in states like Karnataka," he added.

Actor Jeet, however, felt that preventing piracy was not the responsibility of the government alone. "Popular consciousness is the only way out. By only making laws and rules not much can be changed," the actor added. Piracy was prevalent in the music industry as well, said singer Anupam Roy and SF Karim of Saregama spoke on the prevalence of piracy in the music industry. SF Karim said, "Puja-r gaan which was a rage earlier, is now almost nonexistent among listeners. Even in the year 2000, 30 lakh cassettes and 5 lakh CDs were cut. Now, in 2010, there is no market for cassettes and as far as CDs are concerned, the sale is up by only 5 lakh. The only genre which has survived the tide of time is Rabindra Sangeet whose popularity has increased among youngsters. Music industry has incurred huge losses due to the several websites from which pirated songs can be downloaded."

Industry insiders also expressed shock at the dwindling number of movie theatres across the state. "In the last ten years, several movie halls have shut their gates in rural towns. From around 950 movie theatres, we now have some 350-odd cinema halls across the state despite the thriving business by multiplexes," said Arijit Dutta. Scriptwriter NK Salil added, "As a result those films which could have continued to be shown at the theatres for a longer time are being pulled out to make way for another film with better prospect."

As a solution to this problem, industrialist Sanjay Budhia felt that a forum needed to be formed. "Comprising industry insiders, the forum can hold discussions with the government," Budhia said. The most encouraging factor among all these issues was the resurgence of Bengali film industry. While Anupam Roy praised the new genre of directors, said that there was hunger which was now being satiated by the new genre of directors who understood the pulse of the audience. Actor Parambrata Chattopadhyay said, "The eyes of the audience have opened up as there is a paradigm shift in their demand." Such is the popularity of Bengali films that they have found an overwhelming response abroad.

Director Mainak Bhaumick said this feat could be achieved because directors have got the license to explore and viewers can relate to the movies Filmmaker Bappaditya Bandopadhyay summed up the achievement: "There is no art or commercial cinema but only good film or bad film. Earlier the rural audience decided the content in movies, now the urban audience does it." Jeet said, "A further betterment can only be achieved if there are new ideas flowing in, improved infrastructure and technology provided to the industry, bringing legislation to stop piracy and thus ensuring brisk business for movie theatre owners. I also believe that a concerted effort for popularizing Tollywood movies in Bangladesh will also churn out a larger audience since we speak the same language."


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