India’s most expensive movie is battling piracy and telcos

Chitti’s back.
Chitti’s back.
Image: EPA/Nathan G
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India’s most expensive movie to date has fallen prey to piracy.

On Nov. 28, Lyca Productions, the producer of 2.0, starring Tamil megastar Rajnikanth and Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar, filed a civil suit identifying over 12,500 sites that may host pirated versions of their movie. Subsequently, the Madras high court directed 37 internet service providers (ISPs) in the country to remove the listed URLs.

Yet, 2.0 had begun circulating online shortly after the movie’s release on Thursday (Nov. 29), courtesy notorious piracy group Tamilrockers. When one website is blocked, Tamilrockers is reportedly able to quickly create a mirror link by altering an insignificant part of the URL or any other extension, thereby letting the movie to continue floating around the internet.

In a desperate attempt to curb the rampant unlawful online distribution of the film made on a whopping Rs500 crore ($71.6 million)-plus budget, the maker is calling upon fans to report pirated links:

This isn’t the first time Tamilrockers has wreaked havoc. The group recently released AR Murugadoss’ Sarkar hours after it premiered. It also leaked the Aamir Khan-Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Thugs of Hindostan, as well as its dubbed versions in Tamil and Telugu.

Apart from being in damage-control mode on the internet, the movie has another controversy on its hands: opposition from telecom firms.

Taking on cell phones

A central theme in director S Shankar’s movie is how electromagnetic radiation caused by mobile phones is killing birds.

On Nov. 27, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) filed a complaint with the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and the ministry of information and broadcasting, taking issue with this plot. “The movie, including its teasers, trailers and other promotional videos, depict mobile phones and mobile towers in a defamatory manner,” the industry body said.

COAI said the content “will create unfounded fear and mass paranoia,” and asked to suspend release until it had the chance to review all 2.5 hours that will play in cinemas.

Still, hiccups aside, the movie’s release went uninterrupted and it’s already setting the cash registers on fire.

In theatres now

As the revered actor and budding politician Rajnikanth reprises his role from 2010 film Enthiran (Robot), his fans are going all out to help him conquer the box-office.

In Sion, Mumbai, the Maharashtra State Head Rajini Fans Welfare Association (MSHRFWA) arranged for prayer as early as 4am at a local temple. Following the ritual, dancers performed Karakattam, a folk dance from Tamil Nadu, and then the group led a procession to the first screening. They also erected a 69-feet tall poster of Rajnikanth, lovingly called Thalaivar (leader) by his followers, outside the cinema hall.

A Coimbatore-based company, Get Set Go, not only gave a day off for employees to enjoy the movie in theatres but also sponsored their tickets.