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Kahaani 2 makers accused of 'anti-competitive' practices by leading film distributor

K Sera Sera Digital Cinema has accused Pen India Ltd and Bound Script Motion Pictures of seeking to artificially increase demand and defeat competition through unfair practices.

Shriram Iyengar

With the release date hovering, the makers of Sujoy Ghosh's Kahaani 2 have run into rough waters. Leading distributor K Sera Sera Digital Cinema has accused the producers of the film of resorting to unfair practices and violating the Competition Act, 2002. 

According to a report in Mumbai Mirror newspaper, the distributor has petitioned the Bombay high court declaring that Pen India Ltd and Bound Script Motion Pictures, the main producers of the film, have unfairly refused to release the film through K Sera Sera's system. 

The petitioners accused that the producers have struck a deal to control and manage Kahaani 2's release to prohibit their competitors from procuring the film for screening. 

K Sera Sera is into digital projection and screening of movies, and is associated with almost 300 cinema halls across the country. In the petition, the company said, "The respondents [Pen India Ltd and Bound Script Motion Pictures] have entered into understanding/agreement with its local distributors and select theatres to oust competition and limit/control the supply of movie, to increase demand in selected theatres by prohibiting hundreds of theatres from screening the movie." 

The report says, K Sera Sera had discovered the plan from an 'industry source' and sought a clarification from the producers. However, they did not get a response.

The distribution company has also accused the makers of violating the Competition Act, 2002. The petition was brought before Justices OS Aka and Anuja Prabhudessai for 'urgent relief'. However, the court agreed with the view of the producers that the case should be handled by the Competition Commission. 

Senior advocate Darius Shroff, arguing on behalf of K Sera Sera, said that the commission's rule did not allow urgent hearings, which might result in the film being released in cinema halls despite the petition against it. The counsel requested the court to direct the commission to hear the case on an urgent basis. The judges have refused to accept the request and asked K Sera Sera to file a petition before the commission. 

Jayantilal Gada of Pen India has, meanwhile, suggested that the decision was a 'business call'. He said, "We had decided to release it on a smaller scale after we came to a conclusion that people who can pay through cards would watch this movie more than people who prefer to make cash payments." 

Cinestaan.com spoke to Shyam Shroff of Shringar Films to get a third person perspective on the issue. Shroff refused to elaborate on the issue considering that it was a legal matter, and in court. However, he said, "It is the producers' right to share the distribution of films. That way, it could be a business call. However, we cannot comment on an issue without knowing every angle of it." 

Pen India has reportedly provided the content to 10-11 companies, leaving out four, one of which is K Sera Sera. Mirror's report quoted Gada as saying that they were "now thinking of giving it to all of them as we are hearing that release of another movie, which was initially scheduled this week, has been postponed."