There’s this little “Indian store” close by, no different from any of the numerous Indian stores dotted across cities and towns across North America. The usual little place, with an assortment of frozen or dry packed foods, Maggi, Parle-G biscuits, pickles, spices and other essentials. And of course, the irreplaceable videos of the latest from Bollywood. As is the case, every time a movie is released, the store-owner painstakingly copies each movie out on to a dozen or so video-tapes, to lend out to customers (us). This means a single DVD that he buys (from Shemaroo or where-ever else) multiplies for just about no cost, and is distributed. Most readers will agree that this would constitute the classical definition of media piracy, wouldn’t you? Typically, when a movie is running in the local cinema (that screens Indian movies), the movie does not reach the store on DVD or video. A few weeks after the release of the movie, it shows up on the shelves, as DVD and innumerable videos.
But (rather often, might I add) this chappie seemed to have some movies with him even the day after it’s release. These he wouldn’t display on the shelves, but if you asked him for it, he’d pull it out from under a counter, with the flourish of a conjuror pulling out a rabbit from a hat. He’d then smile and with a twinkle in his eyes typically say something like
“Yeh camera print hain, print aur audio average hain.” (this is a “camera-print”, and the quality is just about “average”).
We all know about these camera prints (wink, wink), those awful tapes which we just need to see, to keep up with cinema trends. Those tapes which were made by some enterprising entrepreneur who sat through the movie in the hall with a video camera (Seinfeld, any one?). We aren’t surprised when we see shadows walk across the screen, or some hooting or clapping noises, or even the occasional commercial. Very much part of the game. And most of us usually patiently wait for the “official” prints, copied from original DVDs, with marginally better audio and video quality.
One day, not unlike any other, my wife and I asked him if he had the video of some movie that had just come out in the theaters (I believe it was the atrocity passing off as a comedy, Garam masaala). He said it wasn’t there officially, but he had a “pirated, camera print.”
My wife instantly went, “Par aap ke yahan sabhi movies to pirated hain” (but aren’t all your movies pirated anyway?).
He looked right back in mortified horror, pain and indignation.
“Kya bol rahe hain aap? Sab movies pirated thodi hi hain? Sab ke original DVDs athe hain, aur unka copies banathe hain hum. Woh pirated thodi hain.”
And then he went on to patiently explain to us foolish, innocent ignoramuses that only those movies that are “camera prints”, which are made inside a cinema hall illegally, are pirated.
All other copies are perfectly legal.