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Pirates, don't try copying CCTC

By Arthur J Pais in New York
January 15, 2009 13:30 IST
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The buzz for Warner Bros's first Hindi language film Chandni Chowk To China is very big, and as a review in the San Jose Mercury predicts the movie could make Akshay Kumar a global star.

Trade pundits say they would not be surprised if it flies past the estimated $38 million Ghajini, the Aamir Khan-starrer, has taken worldwide in less than three weeks, over $5 million of it coming from markets outside India.

According to an estimate from, Ghajini's gross is at least 20 percent more than that of another huge hit, the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi.

The worry for Warner Bros is not how big the Akshay and Deepika Padukone kung fu comedy thriller will open on screens, but whether the studio can stop piracy not only during the film's theatrical run, but also before it hits DVD stores in a few weeks.

"We want to protect this film as much as we do with our other films," said Richard Fox, executive vice president, Warner Bros International, "Warner Bros is very particular about copyright. We are also fighting on another front; when we hear that producers in India are trying to remake our films without permission, we have been taking ads in the newspapers, telling them they have to talk to us first."

Warner Bros made journalists sign -- at least in New York -- an agreement that they would not review the film till January 16, But the San Jose Mercury News disregarded the embargo; it posted a brief review on the 14th.

The review noted that the film 'stars Akshay Kumar, who's being marketed as India's Jackie Chan; and ends with a plug for a sequel, Chandni Chowk to Africa. Globalization, thy name is Chandni Chowk.'

The review said the film 'may prove flummoxing' to mainstream audiences and, at just past 2½ hours.' But those who sit through the first half an hour would fall for its 'dizzying mix of martial-arts mayhem, music-video dance sequences, soapy evil-twin intrigue, weepy romance... the Hindu-meets-Buddhism, East-meets-East-meets-West culture clash that's so energetic and cheesy it's hard not to be charmed by it.'

The film won't appeal to those not already entertained by Bollywood and kung fu movie cliches, the review warned, 'but it could turn the charismatic Akshay Kumar into a global star.)

Warner Bros Worldwide Anti-Piracy Group started the campaign to protect CC2C during its premieres in Toronto, New York and London. In New York, announcements were made at the premiere last week that the studio had hired security guards with night vision goggles and other devices to thwart anyone recording the film.

While introducing the film, director Nikhil Advani spoke about how Akshay Kumar had broken his back working for it, and quipped that Akshay would break anyone's back, caught recording scenes.

The movie opens January 16 in at least 35 markets including the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia; it will add more nations and screens the next week.

In North America, it will open on at least 125 screens in the hope of setting a record for a Hindi film not only for the number of screens, but also the number of shows.

'We know that audience excitement and anticipation for Chandni Chowk To China is high, especially in the North American Hindi and UK community,' Lucia Rangel, Warner Bros's vice-president for Latin America and Asia Pacific worldwide anti-piracy operations, told the media last week. 'Anyone trying to illegally camcord, sell or distribute our film on the Internet should be aware that we will be very, very vigilant in our efforts to protect this film.'

The studio will not only monitor many screenings, especially in smaller cities but will also scan the Internet to identify pirates and over enthusiastic fans who may want to post a scene or a song from the film.

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Arthur J Pais in New York