Sunday September 11, 2011

The excruciating mental, ethical and emotional turmoil of downloading an illegal copy of Ra.One’s soundtrack

Posted by Karthik

Yet another big budget Bollywood film…yet another music soundtrack leak! Yes, Shah Rukh Khan’s magnum opus, Ra.One was supposed to have a music launch on Monday, but the soundtrack (with the exception of one song, Dildaara) is already out on the net. People are downloading it at a furious pace and it has also made its way into the torrent world.

There are some feeble attempts to appeal to the downloaders not to download it via such illegal means and wait till the original soundtrack releases; but these have been met with largely cynical and mixed views.

Consider this response from a torrent downloader, after having read a sermon on piracy and ‘music stealing’ from another fan, on a torrent site.

“Thanks!! – you are most welcome to wait for official release… Me and others on the other hand will get it now.”

The film’s director, Anubhav Sinha, made a passionate, grammatically appalling plea via Twitter.

“Appeal. Every1 who has an illegal Ra.One track, DELETE IT… And announce here. Let’s see the numbers.”

And then, 3 hours later, he tweeted,

“At least 200 people deleted and reported. Hats Off.”

Some of the more interesting responses to his appeal include,

“what’s the proof that they really deleted . . . . . :(”

“why do we need to delete I have all the tracks but pls explain why shud I delete.!?!?”

“i would not.what can you do?”

I’m just wondering aloud here – why bother appealing to the supposed inherent goodness in people? Do they expect people to go, “Oh my God, what have I done! I dared to sin by downloading the music and causing a few rupees’ worth of monetary loss to Shah Rukh Khan’s production house that will only make a few crores out of this film. Ok, let me clear both my conscience and my hard drive…and delete the soundtrack right away“.

That sounds like fooling ourselves, in general, since every reasonably-internet savvy person with even a marginal interest in new music is bound to download the soundtrack from the myriad sources online, whether they inform others or not. Fanatics of Shah Rukh Khan and genuinely good people who made the mistake of remaining in Kalyug may delete what they have downloaded and also update Anubhav about it honestly. On last count, this was a humongous group of 200 odd people.

Instead, why can’t the film makers be a bit more pragmatic about the whole thing? Assume that people will download and that they don’t care for your appeals of being honest and genuine. But dig into that part of them that appreciates music – why not tell them to download it from wherever they’d like to, but consider buying the soundtrack to support their hard work? That, at least sounds a bit more direct and grounded, than expecting people to one, not download it at all, two, deleting what they have downloaded and three, informing the film’s director about their deed!

The other, tactical way is to perhaps think of something interesting that can be added to the CD so that owning the physical copy makes really good sense. May be an autographed poster from Shah Rukh Khan…or even a Ra.One toy like the ones we get from McDonalds…that does something cool like jump or race forward. Or, a small discount on the ticket price of Ra.One’s theatrical screening – even a small’ish Rs. 30 off may help audio CD buyers to see the value in owning the CD. Of course, it goes without saying that there’d still be tons and tons of people who wouldn’t care for all these innovations and continue to download (and not buy) any audio CD – but at least the film makers may start to sound real and not say/appeal things that sound outdated ( I don’t intend to say honesty is outdated – it is not!), while in fact making a mighty futuristic film!

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