June started exceptionally well for movie director Prakash Jha. His latest movie ‘Raajneeti‘, which translates to ‘Politics’, is a Bollywood political thriller which has been doing rather well. Inside two weeks the movie became an official hit taking around 1 billion rupees. By the middle of the month, however, controversy came calling.
On June 15 the movie was screened at a plush hotel for the pleasure of dozens of legislators from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). But there was a problem. The movie is not officially available on DVD as it is still running in theaters. The BJP overcame this small problem by watching a pirate copy.
The problematic viewing might have gone unnoticed if the country’s news channels hadn’t aired footage of the screening and one BJP member saying: “We are watching this movie because it has the title Raajneeti [Politics], it is the latest movie in town and more so because it has to do with politics.”
A furious Prakash Jha immediately announced he would take action against both the politicians and the hotel where the screening took place.
“Whatever legal recourse needs to be taken against people who were responsible for showing the film, and those who watched it, is being taken,” said Jha. “No one will be spared, everybody involved – whether it is [Former chief minister of the state] Vasundhra Raje or the hotel authorities – will be punished.”
“It’s funny to see that the first among lawmakers themselves are turning against the law,” he added. “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 in the market?”
A BJP member was unapologetic. “They are making a mountain out of a molehill. This is not good. You talk to Prakash Jha as to what action he will take. We have not done anything wrong.”
Jha said that if the lawmakers wanted to watch the movie, if only they had asked he would’ve provided a copy.
“It’s high time that a lesson be taught to people committing such illegal actions,” he concludes. “We have been trying so hard all these years to fight piracy and they just come, watch a pirated movie and go. Not done!”
Following the filing of a criminal complaint, last Thursday a court asked police to begin an investigation into the matter.