Author Archives: Sugeeth Krishnamoorthy

About Sugeeth Krishnamoorthy

Former Video Engineer, Independent Tamil Cinema Researcher, Farmer and a Evernote Community Leader.

TFPC and its relentless Pursuit of ‘TamilRockers’

When Vishal fought his way to power, few years ago at the TFPC, few people expected him to generate serious results in the ‘antipiracy’ front, beyond seeking momentary PR for his upcoming films. But that might soon change.

Under his leadership, a special young AntiPiracy team was setup, which has been relentlessly pursuing Tamilrockers, and various other Piracy web domains. Hundreds of domains have been blocked ( with Pirate Websites forced to hop to the next domain) and revenue streams have been cut off. While tangible alternatives have been found at the moment for the Piracy websites, invariably, the noose is invariably tightening, and that might just be a game changer here – a serious one that could solve a problem of over 2 decades for the film and entertainment industry.

The consistent persistence and determination of the TFPC’s Antipiracy council has helped it earn a special reputation over the years. Last week, the TFPC announced that it had obtained ‘admin-deletion’ rights for a couple of cyber locker websites, giving them the power to delete content immediately. But the latest news of the council’s work being recognized by the Central Government creates an opportunity for them to directly ‘lobby’ for their interests and provide tools for instant ‘take-down’, by passing traditional take down steps, distributed across multiple online agencies could be a serious game changer, and if the TFPC has come so far, then it is very much possible that this will happen.

Sure

, if this happens, it will be a serious precedent, in a sense that rights groups are going to oppose the passing of take down rights ( which are very legitimate in this case, when seen from the case of Anti Piracy agencies and the film makers), but copyright holders have also been known to abuse take-down rights for perfectly legitimate cases, to cover up some of their own deficiencies.

Piracy1

But that power in the hands of an agency like the TFPC, could change the piracy eco system totally. It may not eradicate piracy totally, but the flagship Piracy Mascot ‘TamilRockers’ which up and until now has proved to be a serious pain the neck for the film makers, is known to rely only a centralized URL based system, could be gone for ever.

And that itself, would be a mega mega success for the film industry. If that happens, Producer Gnanavel Raja would have the last laugh.

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TFPC Antipiracy – Harnessing fan support for Kaala..

Since yesterday, TFPC claims that around 6000 links have been removed, which itself is a tremendous effort. 👏👏👏

It also appears to be taking the help of Copyright media, which has been an independent antipiracy management organization for quite some time and also Rajinifans.com.

Harnessing the power of die hard fans/fan organizations so far is unique, and it is a good step ahead. (But apart from Rajini/Kamal, is something like this possible in today’s world, i wonder?)

The scale of this gargantuan effort is unthinkable for any other actor / movie, but sadly just searching 🔎 around for just 2 minutes with big ‘G’ baba and a working link is appearing.

If this scale of effort has been done for some other film, I guess it would have a substantial effort in removing illegal links, but for a film of Rajini’s scale, links will simply keep appearing. Some of yesterday’s links will be gone today, and today’s new links will be gone tomorrow, but they will keep coming.

Interestingly most of the new films are tying up with providers like Amazon prime and start appearing in less than a month, legally. Several films are broadcast on TV in less than 2 or 3 months, yet the Internet has created a situation where millions of users don’t want to pay for such services or wait so long. Beyond this, what can the film industry do?

Instant Arrest – Wishes for Vishal and TFPC – But ‘Kaala’ is still out there..

As the world and millions of Super Star Rajini fans gear out to celebrate the release of his latest film Kaala, a small story is playing out in the background.

Yesterday, the PR agency for Vishal, the Antipiracy cell of the TFPC proudly announced the instant capture of an individual who was illegally live streaming Kaala on Facebook. Following this, as usual, there have been a few publicity activities, built on Vishal’s efficiency in capturing pirates etc.

But a peep into the TR website still shows that Kaala is available, even before the first formal show release in India. So, what’s the point of all this, totally baffles me? Are people even bothered about the ‘odd’ individual who gets caught? Beyond a few URL seizures/blocks and the arrest of a few individuals has there been any meaningful progress to the initiative ve ? The film is out there, and that’s what should really matter, and not that the TFPC got an individual arrested. The day, the TFPC ensures that a new film release does not get uploaded online in any website /torrent for one full day atleast with ‘zero’ , is when it can hold its head high and say that Vishal and his team have truly succeeded. But is this even meaningfully possibly in a world where every one has recording devices and instant access to the Internet? Technology is several stacked against the film industry which for decades has enjoyed the benefits of the centralised top-down copyright industry. But now things are different.

All of these activities from the TFPC in my opinion are possibly geared to only raising the profile of its leader, Vishal.

With regard to the arrest, forget the ‘odd’ guy. There have been several such instances in the past. Do the public even remember all that? How long will media sustain this news? Few hours, 1-2 days at most. Has the TFPC addressed/audited the loopholes in its own legitimate chain, right from the point of censorship to the storage of films, to the point where they are transmitted through a DSP to theatres? The Vox article on Tamilrockers made several stark allegations, of moles and purposeful leaks from within the industry itself.

In a decentralised internet world, TR could very well be directly and indirectly, supported by millions of individuals. Mere URL blocking can never serve as a permanent solution to this problem. More importantly, with the emergence of small budgeted ‘web series’ and the thriving rise of social media as a preferred engagement medium of choice, the film industry as a whole needs to assess its own future, if it can even survive in traditional forms, going into the future.

TR and piracy may have a strong role in the industry’s downfall, a few decades from now, but legitimate entertainment forms will have a much larger role.

Audio Interview – Venkatesh Kumar.G

Venkatesh Kumar.G is a film maker, who primarily makes films, by focussing on ‘social’ issues. Apart from his feature films Unakkul Naan, Lightman, and Neelam, he has also made several short films. He is also involved in the creation and functioning of a new administrative body, which he believes will cater to the needs of small film makers, especially with regard to sorting out challenges with regard to the tedious Censor Certificate and the ‘Film Name Registration Processes’.

A victim of ‘pre-release’ piracy himself, a topic that we deal quite frequently on this blog  – Venkatesh was kind enough to provide me with audio responses to several questions which i had put forward to him over email, questions that involved his own work and also to several issues surrounding the film industry. Thank you, Venkatesh Sir.

Additional Reading : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kumar_G._Venkatesh

Questions :

1. There are people who make commercial films, artistic ones and some even neo-realistic ones? But do you set out consciously to make ‘socially’ relavant films in a docu-drama style? Are you comfortable with this sort of presentation or is this just my impression? Do you bring this thought process of ‘social equality’ and ‘sustenance’ etc to actions in your real life?
2. Your pulling together some of the issues of the marginalized in society? Fishermen’s problems, alcoholism, Manual scavenging, Begging etc? As part of being in society, we are all aware and even consciously choose to ignore these issues, sadly. However, while seeing some of your short films, (barring the neurons), i could not get a sense of seeing anything new or to linger in my heart. I really get the feeling that if you wanted to do make a film ( although it is a short and may have budget issues), in depth issue in research was lacking, and there was nothing new . How do you react to this?
3. Bharathi – Jayakanthan – How important are these names in the times that we live in today?
4. Typically, the people who are involved in making art films have sheer contempt for main stream commercial films. ( I am trying to extrapolate this to your belief through a dialogue in one of your films – LightMan, although i am not sure of your own views here). Barring the state of Bengal and to some extent Kerala, the situation remains near same through out the nation. It could have a political logic in both of them being states with leftist rule, but how do you read into this? Your views?
5. How important are short films to an aspiring film maker’s resume these days? Millions of videos are being uploaded each second – so how do you weigh in the ‘visibility’ and ‘revenue earning’ factor for short films? Apart from Youtube, there are solutions like Karthik Subbaraj’s business model. Can you tell us a bit about how you see the situation?
6. You leave lots of space for music in your films. This is a good thought, but sometimes, lack of drama and placing music over it for too long can become over kill. I think the theatre scene in Lightman has a score for over 10 minutes. I really felt that even if you had the music running, the boy should have been doing something else, but the idea keeps recurring that he is glued to the screen in awe, but beyond that, somehow, i felt it a bit of a drag. Your views?
7. NFDC – Lightman relationship? can you tell us a bit?
8. If my memory goes right, one of your films was to be made by Jayakanthan’s works. – Your views on his work and the film to be made?
9. Have you seen past works of Jayakanthan’s which were adapted into film? It is so hard to get a copy of these films. Barring ‘Sila Nerangalil Sila Manithargal’ and ‘Oru Nadigai Nadagam Parkiral’? Several other titles made by JK himself and even Lenin are hard to find? – Your views?
10. I understand that you have made 2 main stream films and the third one is yet to release. Please correct me if i am wrong. Your first film Lightman – Was this film operationally profitable? What were the current revenue streams available to a film maker and which were the ones you chose to invest?
11. I empathise that your film ‘LightMan’ was a victim of pre-release piracy. It is indeed a very sensitive subject and the likes of such people are hardly shown. My question is – the kind of films that you make are typically off-beat ones, which in a sense are not expected to really bring public in masses. This has been the same, right from the days when JK made Unnaipol Oruvan. Several leftist neo-real films made in the 70’s also were not operationally proftable. So, in that sense, does pre-release piracy have a serious financial impact in this case? What were the immediate outcomes of the pre-release piracy to your film? Also, what is the state of the light men given. That the film. Industry has shut down for over a month now?
12. Unlike the case of post-release piracy, in which almost happens for every film, pre-release piracy has been happening on and off. Accusations have come that prints were leaked from the Censors, from the Theatres, manufacturing and transit, some even the DSP’s – This is supposed to be a legal system. The recent article on Tamilrockers by Vox also makes dramatic claims that rats and ‘jealous competition’  are very much part of the system and they have been source beds and direct agents for pirate sites. Isn’t there any legal protection in these channels for film makers? Has anyone exercised this right by going to court and getting damages? ( I know it is rather far fetched in the Indian system, but atleast to be symbolic).
13. Your views on the functioning of the TFPC under Vishal? Does this functioning help the small film maker? How was it under the previous group? In the political controversy, Did the alternate group under Cheran communicate with you regarding your branch off? Do you see this as a political stunt or do you think there is a genuineness in Cherans opposing Vishal?
14. Does a small budget film’s success weigh strongly based on its producer/ distributor like – Is there a possibility of Kaaka Muttai ( Dhanush/Vetrimaaran) or Aruvi ( Produced S.R.Prabu) doing much better and getting better visibility than say a film like Kuttram Kadithal, which lay in the cans for 1.5 years before a release? ( Incidentally both Kaaka Muttai and Kuttram Kadithal won National Awards that year). Does this go very much against small budget films without big banner backup names? Or alternatively does ‘Nature of Content’ determine ‘commercial success’? ( Films which pack entertaining elements Vs film makers who don’t compromise for commercial add-ons?)
15. I see piracy as a short term threat. In my view, cinema as we see it, itself cannot remain for long. We are entering times, where newer engagement forms are coming up. Shorter films with no songs. Several films are being choreographed without fights. We are also seeing a lot of web series being made exclusively for the VOD market. In such circuyumstances, what happens to the light men and other technicians as these film makers dont have the luxury of big budgets. Unionism will protect them only so far, but when technology and the medium itself changes, how will they adapt themselves, are they aware of what is coming? Or maybe, you think that i am incorrect? your views?
16. You have been associated with a Russian collaboration for making your film? Can you tell us a bit about this? Is this in any way connected to your own personal political views?
17. Please correct me if i am wrong, You were trying to build a smaller kind of ‘Producers rights body’, for smaller producers, and those that did not have their grievenaces addressed could get in touch with this body. I hope i am right. If that be true, how would get other business partners in the ecosystem to communicate with you and establish your authority. Would a small body be able to handle the kind of chaos that’s been happening in the last one month.
Your views on the TFPC – DSP – Theatre issue which has been simmering for a month.
18. Apparently, one tweet from a reputed producer said that he would restrict his films to 100 screens to support smaller films. I don’t know if it was an official resilution passed by the TFPC. Do you have any idea of this? If this is true, do you think this would be complied or would rules be bent for the bigger films?

 

 

TR Continues to be Online ..

For the last month, the tiff between The Tamilnadu Film Producer’s Council and the Digital Signal Providers ( QUBE, UFO, PXD etc) seems to have hit a bottleneck, regarding the issue of ‘Virtual Service Fees’. No new films have released for quite a while, and theatre operators over the state are running re-runs of old films. In such a scenario, there has been some news on the Piracy front.

In the last 24 hours, news sources claim that police seem to have arrested a few operators who allegedly ran the infamous website. The sad part is that, the media which goes gung-ho over this news will not even bother to follow up, what happened to the people arrested today, in the days to come. Even last year, a similar such arrest was made, but there are hardly any reports that have followed up on what happened to the person who was arrested. So, we will never know for sure, if the person involved in that case was ‘innocent’, ‘accused’ or was a case of mistaken identity.

TR_Now

                                           Tamilrockers continues to be up & running.

But what matters is this. The site ‘Tamil Rockers’ still continues to be up and running. It has been domain hopping for over a year, and continues to do so. ‘Blocking of URL domains’ is hardly seems to be an effective solution even for an hour, as the site keeps coming back again and again. The arrests may give some publicity and ‘news-focus’ for a couple of days, before the issue dies down again.

The real danger that the film industry faces is no longer the actual issue of debating whether the act of indulging in piracy is right or not, but rather, that if such events keep happening, that they no longer turn eye-balls or not. I would be surprised, if even popular film magazines which have been around, will provide major focus to this raid, in the coming week.

 

Benefits of using Primary Sources for Research..

  1. Primary sources help us reverify information which has been published in secondary sources.
  2. Primary sources help us correct any errors which have been published in secondary sources, and which ironically have been reproduced several times to a point where subsequent secondary and tertiary sources keep publishing the error as a fact. For eg several sources attribute the film Prem Sagar to have been directed by K. SUBHRAMANYAM, where as the film was actually directed by Pandit Narottam Vyas. K. Subhramanyam’s flagship production company MUAC distributed the film.
  3. Primary sources help us find new information, that may not necessarily have interested those authors who have used them in the past. (eg Sailen Bose is today well recognized as a well known cinematographer. But primary records also show that he had a film processing lab which was contractually attached to the Motion Picture Studios).
  4. Primary sources provide dates which give us a more accurate perception of chronological events in a time line. Secondary sources typically do not mention dates, or provide a very vague timeline. Some of these dates also tend to be incorrect. For eg. Several sources cite the date of the fire accident at the motion picture studios to be 21 Dec 1940, but the actual date of the event was Dec 11, 1938.