Politicians face film piracy charge

Rajasthan pols cited for screen bogus DVD copy of 'Raajneeti'

NEW DELHI -- In an ironic twist, some politicians are facing possible legal action for watching a pirated DVD of smash hit “Raajneeti," director Prakash Jha's political drama that has been in the spotlight for its apparent similarity to real-life politicians.

Produced by UTV Motion Pictures, “Raajneeti” ("Politics") released June 11 and opened strong while garnering encouraging reviews collecting over 1 billion rupees ($22 million) worldwide within 10 days.

On June 15, a pirated DVD of the film was screened for about 66 legislators of the Bharatiya Janata Party at a hotel resort in the western city of Jaipur in Rajasthan state.

A livid Jha announced to the media Wednesday that he would take legal action against the politicians, stating, “It’s funny to see that the first among lawmakers themselves are turning against the law. It’s ridiculous that they screened a pirated version of the movie! How can they not know that the original version of a just-released movie will never be available (on DVD) in the market? If they wanted to see the movie so desperately, they should have asked me and I would have provided them with an original copy of the film.”

When contacted, UTVMP CEO Siddharth Roy Kapur added that the banner was “planning action against the hotel owner who showed the film.”

Meanwhile, following a criminal complaint by a local citizen, a Jaipur court Thursday asked police to lodge a first information report and investigate the piracy allegations.

The screening was organized as part of a closed-door BJP meeting at the hotel ahead of party nominations to the upper house of Parliament. News channels showed footage of the illicit screening, which included senior BJP politician and former chief minister of Rajasthan state Vasundhara Raje, who was quoted saying, “We are watching this movie because it has the title 'Raajneeti'; it is the latest movie in town and more so because it has to do with politics.”

A cross between “The Godfather” and elements of Indian epic “Mahabharata," the film portrays a vicious power struggle between rival factions in a political family. The ensemble drama stars veteran actors such as Naseeruddin Shah alongwith top stars Ranbir Kapoor and actress Katrina Kaif.