Arun Vijay, star of SonyLiv’s new series Tamil Rockerz, talks about the infamous piracy group, regional language OTT content, and the blurring language barriers.
Tamil Rockerz’s Arun Vijay says ‘people lose their lives’ when their films leak
Arun Vijay has worked in a number of films in a decade-long career in Tamil cinema. So, a shift to a web series was not exactly an obvious choice at this stage. But the actor recently made his OTT debut with Tamil Rockerz, which premiered on SonyLiv last Friday. The actor says the combination of the directors and concept was what convinced him to cross over. In a chat with Hindustan Times, Arun discusses piracy, including the infamous Tamil Rockers group, and the dual threat cinemas face from piracy and streaming platforms.
Tamil Rockerz is the story of the titular group of cyber hackers planning to leak the most anticipated Tamil film of the year, while a cop ACP Rudra (Arun) tries to hunt them down. Arun Vijay’s character hates cinema, something he found hard to reconcile with. “It was difficult to say that line–‘I don’t like cinema’,” he says laughing, but then adds, “But it’s a character and you have to play it. It’s very well written and by the end, Rudra comes around to appreciate cinema. That process was interesting to show. He changes slowly and he realises how much efforts are involved in making a film. I think that’s the feeling the audience watching will also have.”
When the trailer of Tamil Rockerz was released on YouTube earlier this month, there was a comment half in jest that the series itself would be leaked online. Arun recalls and says, “Even I didn’t know how to react. But I’m sure once they have watched the series, whoever wrote that will come back and delete it.”
The film piracy shown on the show isn’t alien to the real world. Over the last few years, Tamil Rockers have leaked almost every major film online, ranging from Udtaa Punjab to Dobaaraa (this happened just a few days ago). Talking about piracy and its threat, Arun says, “Every film has faced the same. How much ever precautions we take, it keeps happening.
It’s high time people realise and stop watching pirated content. Bringing them down is another option and that is happening. I think after watching Tamil Rockerz, people will see the efforts of the industry and how many people are involved in making a film. It’s a big industry. Everyone gets affected, not just financially. We have seen people losing their lives. We have had incidents. We have to put an end to this now.”
But despite piracy, films continue to make money, particularly down south and Arun sees this as a promising sign. He argues, “We have been dealing with this for quite some time. It’s an ongoing process. But what’s good to see is that people want to watch films in theatres. On and off, people are proving that and I hope films continue to collect in a huge way. Post Covid, we have seen films do massive business. I think it shows people’s love for theatres is still there.”
Since Covid-19, there is another threat to theatres–the audience’s growing affinity for streaming platforms. And Arun says there is just one mantra to get the audience back inside cinema halls–good content. “Actors and creators should keep in mind to give people good content and theatrical experience, what we can do to excite them in the theatre,” he says, adding, “That’s the thing that we have to work towards. People are watching OTT, they are watching global films. They are well educated now. We have to keep that in mind and try to give something different.”
Tamil Rockerz is among the first of many OTT shows in Tamil, which are finding viewers across the country, just like films from south. Calling this a sign of blurring language barrier, Arun says, “Wide acceptance of good content is happening. Everything is global now and emotions are the same. People are ready for it. It’s good for actors like us because we have a wider reach and crossovers can happen. We can work in the north and people from there can come collaborate with us. It’s wonderful. The language barrier is slowly fading away.”