With just a week to go for Kabali‘s release, the producer of the film, Kalaipuli S Thanu, approached the Madras High Court on 14 July, in a bid to combat and prevent illegal downloads and piracy of the film.
In the past, Thanu, as the head of the Tamil Nadu Producer’s Council, had acquired a reputation for inaction on piracy. At a meeting with the Producers Council last month, actor Vishal, who has been vociferous on the issue of piracy, demanded a ban on theaters that were the “mother source” of piracy. Thanu remained silent. Similarly, in an interview to Thanthi TV last month, Thanu had expressed his inability to act, and claimed that only the Central Government can end piracy.
But Thanu somehow now seems to have gotten over his inability to act and has filed the said petition in which he seeks that the court direct the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to issue instructions to all service providers to block websites – around 180 of them – offering illegal download of the film. The Tamil Nadu Anti-Piracy Cell has been made the respondent of the matter to ensure orders are followed.
Incidentally, actor Parthiban, Vishal, and Gnanavel Raja of Studio Greens have acted on the issue of privacy, in the past. In 2014, Parthiban had conducted a raid based on a tip-off at Chennai’s Burma Bazaar. Over 25, 000 DVDs of the actor’s latest release at the time, Kathai Thiraikathai Vasanam Iyakkam were seized, and the vendors arrested. In the same year, Vishal filed a complaint against a cable operator in Karaikudi when he found the films Un Samaiyal Araiyil and Vadacurry being played on a local channel, considering the films had just released in the theatres.
According to a source close to the producer, Thanu had approached other courts before he finally went to the Madras High Court. The Senior Counsel representing the producer had used one such website as an example to show how piracy works; he showed that films could be downloaded for less than Rs. 10 each, that eventually affect film producers. The issue of piracy, that has plagued the film industry since the beginning of the digital revolution, has acquired a new urgency recently when films like Udta Punjab and Great Grand Masti were leaked on the internet even before their release.
In the meantime, Thanu has also filed a new case on 15 July seeking direction to restrain cable TV operators and Multiple System Operators (MSOs) to avoid Kabali meeting the same fate of Udta Punjab, Un Samaiyal Araiyil and Vadacurry.