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Kamal’s Viswaroopam to open on TV

 | January 8, 2013

Only time will tell us who is right, Kamal Hassan or the producers.

FEATURE

Every new step, every discovery has since time immemorial been criticised and resisted. When the railway stream engine first began hissing, people ran away or hid themselves thinking that it was a huge black monster.

When Aristotle said the earth was spherical, the Greeks were ready to kill him. Similarly, when Satyajit Ray’s doctor hero in Ganashatru (Enemy of the People) found that the holy water of a temple was causing diseases, he was warned of dire consequences.

Now, when Indian actor Kamal Hassan is all set to release his latest multilingual film, Viswaroopam, in the Direct-To-Home format on Jan 10, a day before worldwide theatrical release, he has been receiving telephone calls threatening to flood the market with pirated discs of the movie.

The threats also spoke of electricity being switched off to those theatres screening Viswaroopam. Some cinema owners have decided to play safe and not to show it.

Kamal Hassan is of course determined to go ahead with his DTH plan.

The one-time screener of the film will be available for Rs 1000. Once viewed, the movie cannot be stored in the DTH Set-Top Boxes. So there is no question of replaying it.

In an audio cast on a social networking site, SoundCloud, he averred: “This is targeted at a niche segment that wants to be entertained in the comfort of their homes. It is purely for the excitement of watching it on the first day. The cinema hall experience is still something else,” he said.

“The majority is still going to enjoy the film in cinema halls. We have recorded the sound in world-class technology (auro sound). That was done to get people to cinema halls. Running scared of DTH is like the majority of 99 per cent getting scared of the 1 per cent,” he said.

Dispelling the fears of the Tamil Film Producers’ Association that this DTH move will lead to video piracy, Kamal Hassan quipped that moviemakers must be allowed to explore all legal avenue of earning money.

Only time will tell us who is right, Kamal Hassan or the producers.

But the fact remains that movie pirates are a deadly force to reckon with, as villainous as Long John Silver and his ilk on the high seas were. And incidentally, Pondicherry – a two-hour drive from Chennai through the picturesque East Coast Road — is said to be the piracy capital of India.

Although, Kamal Hassan’s film may have little to do with piracy per se and more about earning extra revenue through home screening, the evil is here to stay unless producers take even bolder steps.

The window period between a theatrical and a video release must not be more than a few weeks — like it is in Japan and some other countries. Big producers can factor in video rights in their agreements with distributors or make disks of their own movies at rates that will stop consumers from peeping into the pirate’s den.  Are these too difficult to accomplish?

Gautaman Bhaskaran is a Chennai-India based author, columnist and film critic. He is also an FMT columnist, may be contacted at [email protected]


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