Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Kerala film industry for ban on Riyan studio

The Kerala film industry has decided to boycott Riyan studio in Kochi, which is being probed for video piracy.

Honchos of various organisations, including Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (Amma), Malayalam Cine Technicians Association (Macta) and Kerala Film Chamber, said the boycott would remain in force until the studio was out of the clouds.

Superstar Mamootty said the meeting had decided to stage protest rallies from one end of the state to the other immediately to focus on the threat posed by video piracy, undermining the very survival of the film industry. One of the drawbacks in the fight against audio-video piracy was the absence of stringent provisions to incriminate racketeers. All activities associated with piracy should be brought under the purview of the proposed Goonda Act, said Mamootty.

The meeting lauded Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan for his bold stand, especially his taking up cudgels on behalf of Inspector General Rishiraj Singh, the anti-piracy nodal officer, who was prevented from raiding Riyan Studio, owned by Anita Thachankary, wife of IG Tomin Thachankary. Although it was a rare show of unity by the industry at the meeting in Kochi, there were a few discordant voices, wondering whether the meeting had decided on the boycott.

Film Chamber leader Seyad Kokker clarified that there was no ambiguity in the decision to boycott Riyan Studio. He demanded that Tomin Thachankary be relieved of his duties during the course of the investigation.

Anita Thachankary approached Kerala High Court to intervene and prevent the police from harassing her and her staff and allow her to complete the studio’s contractual obligations with its clients.

The court ordered notice to Rishiraj Singh and the Kochi police chief to submit their response to allegations leveled by the petitioner.

Meanwhile, even the high-tech cell of the State police has drawn a blank in its efforts to find anything incriminating at the studio. Studio gadgets were too sophisticated, leaving the high-tech team clueless on what precisely transpired at the studio. Rishiraj Singh had anticipated this and arranged for experts from Mumbai before launching the raid. But the state police chief, Raman Srivastava, shunted out Rishiraj Singh in the midst of the raid on Thursday evening, throwing a spanner into the works. By the time the Chief Minister intervened and the police resumed raids all over the state, the team lost precious time, lending the studio authorities a privileged interval to whatever it wanted.

However, the heat is on the studio. Achuthanandan said the other day in Palakkad: Let no one think that such deliberate roadblocks would dissuade me from my commitment to ensure a free and fair administration.


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