Piracy has been crippling Malayalam Film Industry as of late. Almost all the recent Malayalam Movies are readily available in the Internet either as torrents , direct downloads or in the form of ’emdedded’ videos( the last ones being the most dangerous -these are the ‘youtube’ types, no one claims responsibility for it yet everyone can access it free of cost) . It won’t be an overstatement if I say that piracy has become some sort of a global phenomenon afflicting not just ‘mallu’ or ‘hindi’ movies but even their Konkani and Marathi counterparts and it can never be stopped or prevented completely (yes,let’s accept the fact) .But can’t we do something about it before it destroys our industry entirely? As far as Malayalam cinema is concerned I think all is not lost yet. If the industry insiders wake up tothe situation and act sensibly, we can effectively control this growing menace to a certain extent . This post tries to look at 10 steps that can possibly protect our good old Malayalam cinema from the clutches of these ruthless ‘pirates’.
- Revamping the existing cinema halls with better facilities and establishing more number of Multiplexes: Most of our present day theatresare in a pathetic state. Even in a metro like Ernakulam, the situation is no different. Most of them are extremely dirty with seats torn and rats crawling under the seats. The existing theatres should undergo a facelift and provide the movie buffs with better sound and projection facilities. Starting more number of multiplexes in major cities will also help. The success of the Ernakulam multiplexes being a testimony to the fact that there is a potential multiplex audience even in a small state like Kerala. Providing tax concessions by the Government to the well equipped theatres would also be a sensible decision.
- Increasing the number of release centres(Wide Release Strategy): What isthe point in limiting the release of a new movie to just about 60-70 theatres(95-100 for the big M movies) when there are atleast 700 movie halls across the state? The second run theatres are no longer a viable option and by the time the movie reaches them ,the pirated versions must made inroads to even the remotest village in the state either via unauthorized dvds or through the ‘local cable tv’ channels which air them illegally .The only way to increase the number of footfalls in the small centres is to allow them to have a simultaneous release of the brand new movies. I guessthe higher amount of ‘advance’ that they can garner from the ‘A list’theatres is what lure the producers to go for a ‘limited’ release.
- Reducing the time interval between theatrical and home video release: The dvd release of a successful movie should be done anywhere between 110-125 days of it’s release where as for a flop movie a time gap of 35-60days would be reasonable. With Kanakanmani , Kandahar, Best of Luck paving the way,I wish more movies follow this healthy trend.
- Uniformity in the ticket rates: Too high pricing of tickets willcertainly act as a deterrent for the moviegoers. There should be some sort of uniformity in the ticket rates of theatres within the same town/city. For cities like Ernakulam,Tvm and Calicut a ticket fare of 70-75 Rs. and for smaller towns something between 50-55 would be reasonable. Our neighboring state,Tamil Nadu, had successfully implanted this practice (of standardizing and controlling ticket fares)a couple of years back,so I think it’spossible to do so in our state also.
- Competent Advance Booking system: Tele-booking system,internet booking et al will certainly attract more family audience to the theaters. The advance reservation system in our theatres are still in the primitive state. For instance In a big city like Ernakulam though most of the theaters shave all the afore said (booking)facilities, they are highly incompetent (except for the multiplexes which have highly efficient advance booking plans)to say the least.The internet booking system for the single screens rarely works while the tele-booking numbers rarely respond!
- Authorized Internet release on Pay per view basis: This is somethingthat can be a double edged sword if not handled tactically. May not be practical in today’s scheme of things but again we have a predecessor in the form of ‘Chandan Arora’s ‘Striker’.
- Implimenting more stringent Antipiracy laws: Those who violate the copyright laws should be thrust upon with with heavy penalty. Similarly, stringent action must be madefor preventing movies illegally getting uploaded in ‘youtube’ and other video sharing sites. Recently Mrs Mallika Sukumaran and the ‘Youth icon’ Prithviraj Sukumaran made a big hue and cry over somebody called John Kodiyan and his illegal site ashmagic.com, butfrankly speaking I don’t think they will be able to book him since what the accused did was providing an ‘embedded video’ link in his controversial website. As I said before, an embedded video may not necessarily been hostedby the afore said website and this itself makes Mallika-Raju’s case a bit weak.
- Ensuring the security of the digital prints: Gone are the days of camcoder rips and low quality pirated VHS prints.The pirated versions of most of the recent releases are of very high quality (DVD SCR/PDVD-Rips) andit’s pretty evident that at least some of these prints are the stolen ‘stuff’ from lab/digital cinema servers. Remember the What’s your Rasheefiasco? Unless Proper security of the digital prints is ensured things like this are bound to happen again.
- Make good movies : No one is going to watch a bad movie at a good theatre. Imagine watching movies like Raghuvinte Swantham Rasiya at a movie hall? On the contrary, if the movie is good, people will still flock to theaters no matter how good or bad the available pirated prints are! Remember the case of Enthiran?
- Realistic Budgets: Proper planning and completion of movies within realistic budgets would certainly help the producers and distributors to attain ‘break even’ status even before the bootleg DVDs hit the retail markets.
We hope our Industry big wigs take care of at least a couple of these things. Wishing Malayalam Cinema all the best.
Cross Posted at nikhimenon.blogspot.com