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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Main Hoon Shahid Afridi gets pirated run at local cable networks

Local film-makers unite in fight against piracy.
LAHORE: 
While Bollywood films are regularly aired on television by cable operators merely days after their cinema releases, the practice of airing Pakistani films on cable is not as popular. So, it came as a shock when the country’s most-hyped film Main Hoon Shahid Afridi (MHSA) was leaked online by the seventh week of its release while it was still running in cinemas.
“Luckily, my film had completed its run so the loss was minimal,” says Humayun Saeed, producer and lead actor of MHSA.  “But I think this has been a learning experience,” he adds. Saeed suspects that the DVD screener was linked to the editing studio run by Azam Khan, who had a copy of the movie. The latter had passed away leaving the doors open for someone to possibly leak the film for a small amount of money.
Saeed says that he filed a case with the FIA (which deals with cyber crimes) and Pemra but the response has been negligible. “I really don’t know what to do. I guess I can only ask the operators and people to think for the country on a whole,” says Saeed. “When I make my second film, I will check with the distributor and see how we can fill these gaps and be more careful,” he claims.
With the government ignoring an issue that threatens an industry on the brink of revival, film-makers have decided to become proactive. Ishq Khuda maker Shehzad Rafique has approached Saeed to coordinate a meeting with DG Pemra over future piracy issues.
Legal ambiguities
Owner of Mandviwalla Entertainment, Nadeem Mandviwalla says that piracy and censorship are intertwined. He feels the two reflect an overall hypocrisy towards cinema in the country in that while cinema censorship has been scrutinised, piracy remains unresolved. He highlights that cinema is not the only market for films, with other sources such as DVD, television, satellite and mobile phones also available. These are platforms where piracy and illegal content thrive, but seem to escape the law conveniently. “Imagine how disappointed someone like Saeed would be after he had spent a couple of years putting in so much work into his film? This trend will only discourage a market from developing,” asserts Mandviwalla. Clearly, the only place where regulation has become strict is in the censor board, which mainly controls cinema content.
Along with the government’s lack of interest in tackling piracy, which can have damaging effects on an industry that is still in its revival stage, film-makers also feel that the existing legal framework is very limited when it comes to piracy issues.
Imran Kazmi, whose film Siyaah was released on a smaller scale, says that there is little trust in the authorities to guarantee security of films. He adds that it should be ensured that at least in bigger cities like Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi and Islamabad, privacy laws are strictly enforced.
“We are basically told to just go to ‘authorities’. We are not sure who [it is that is] responsible to take action. Just like in Saeed’s case, they [the government] are not bothered,” says Kazmi. “There should be a place to address these concerns. Right now, you can’t trust anyone. If you complain, it really doesn’t result in action,” he adds.

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