Some of the top distributors in Bollywood may be aiding and abetting film piracy. This fact came to light after Mumbai Crime Branch busted a major racket involving employees of two major post-production companies and some pirates who have in the past six months pirated 11 films even before they were released.
The pirates have revealed the names of some distributors who gave them information on ready-to-be-released films and even helped procure copies of masterprints.
The latest masterprint that fell into their hands was of Ashutosh Gowarikerâ€™s Whatâ€™s Your Rashee?, slated to be released on Friday.
The Crime Branch has arrested six people, including a business development manager from Adlabs Films and an associate vice president from UFO Moviez, in connection with the case. It has also found that the entire racket is being run from Karachi in Pakistan.
A Crime Branch officer said, â€œThe accused have revealed the names of some distributors who were helping them with information on where the films were being processedÂ and who were the people who could be contacted for a masterprint.
They also facilitated these liaisons.â€
Crime Branch chief Rakesh Maria said, â€œThere are some people from inside the industry, but we are still verifying their exact role and involvement. It would be premature to reveal their names as of now.â€
HOW THE CASE WAS CRACKED
Whatâ€™s your Rashee?
The Crime Branch was investigating a piracy racket involving copies of Dil Bole Hadippa! when it stumbled upon information that the masterprint of Whatâ€™s Your Rashee? was out and would be delivered to a man in Kherwadi.
A Crime Branch team under Senior PI Ansar Peerzade and API Naik laid a trap on Sunday morning and arrested three people, Afsar Hyder Hussain alias Ashraf, 26, Firoz Irfan Khan alias Salim, 23, and Tanzim Ali Sayed, 26, and recovered pirated CDs of Whatâ€™s Your Rashee? and Dil Bole Hadippa!.
During interrogation they told police that they had got the copy of the filmâ€™s masterprint from business development manager with Adlabs, Durgadas Bhakta, and associate vice president (operations and digital mastering) with UFO Moviez, Rajesh Chaudhary for Rs 2 lakh.
Following this, Crime Branch arrested the two along with Bhaktaâ€™s associate Ajay Pal, 27.
While Adlabs has processed Whatâ€™s Your Rashee? UFO was entrusted with the job of digitising the film and releasing it in multiplexes by uplinking it to the satellite. It was at UFO that Chaudhary made a copy of the film on his laptop and wrote it on a DVD.
Both Bhakta and Chaudhary got Rs 1 lakh each for the job.
THE KARACHI ANGLE
The pirates also disclosed that they would send a print to one Asif in Karachi who would further distribute them to various countries including Bangladesh, France, Germany, Netherlands and Indonesia.
An official spokesperson from Adlabs said, â€œOur security measures makes us one of the most protected and safe environments for motion picture handling. The incident regarding Whatâ€™s Your Rashee? is not attributable to us in any manner.â€
Siddarth Roy Kapoor of UTV said, â€œWe are currently in the process of determining the exact events that have transpired, but have been assured by the authorities that the print was recovered before any damage was done. On a lighter note, we are very encouraged at the huge demand for Whatâ€™s Your Rashee? amongst the pirates, but would urge them to wait three days to watch the film in all its glory on the silver screen.â€