Sunday, 4 January 2015
Book Review: Pirates of Bollywood, by Kalyan C. Kankanala
All of us living in Indian towns and cities have seen pirated books and CDs being sold at traffic signals and on sidewalks. I’m sure many of us wonder why the police doesn’t take any action against an activity which violates the law so blatantly. True, piracy is an offence which only harms the owners and creators of the literary creations which have been pirated. A number of human beings make a living out of piracy and pirated goods are much cheaper than the real stuff, which makes a number of buyers happy. Another important reason is the general lack of awareness regarding intellectual property rights.
In Kalyan C. Kankanala’s latest IP blockbuster Pirates of Bollywood, Arjun Mamidi, once again plays the lead role. Those who read Kankanala’s previous novel Road Humps and Sidewalks, would be familiar with Arjun, the clever IP lawyer from Hyderabad. Arjun’s pretty wife Shreya, Associate Jose and guide dog (Arjun is blind) Neo also make an appearance. Since Pirates of Bollywood is all about piracy of Bollywood movies, a number of actors and producers make it to the cast. All of Kankanala’s characters are very Bollywoodish, with a fair dose of masala thrown in. This applies to the police officers as well, especially the pretty Helen Joseph.
The plot revolves around the attempt by Ganesh Shan, the Chairman of Tunes, one of the largest production houses in Bollywood, to execute Project Pi, with assistance from Krish and Khan, a management consultancy firm. Project Pi would see a multi-pronged assault on piracy of Bollywood movies. Naturally, there are many who do not want Project Pi to take off and as the project gets underway, the bodies start to pile up.
As may be expected from Arjun Mamidi’s fans, there are some courtroom scenes where Arjun gets to display his erudition and knowledge of law. Just as in Road Humps and Sidewalks, Arjun gets into harm’s way more often than not.
Kankanala introduces the concept of piracy rights. In case you haven’t heard of it before, piracy rights enable to holder of those rights to sell pirated copies of the movie or book or other intellectual property, with the blessings of the copyright holder, who would take stringent action against all pirates, except the holder of piracy rights. I guess piracy rights are awarded when a copyright holder believes that piracy cannot be stopped and would rather channelize it fruitfully. All of this is illegal of course. I’m not going to explain any more here, because if I do, I’d give away the plot. I’ll leave it to you to read this very interesting novel and find out for yourself.
Kankanala writes in simple English, though there is a surfeit of adjectives and clichéd phrases. None of that detracts from the plot or the suspense as the story unfolds. A very interesting read, I would recommend Pirates of Bollywood to everyone interested in knowing more about the status of intellectual property rights in the Bollywood film industry.