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Explained: What is the subscription-based porn app racket busted by Mumbai police?

The Mumbai police has busted a racket where porn movies are being shot at bungalows in and around Mumbai on shoestring budgets. What does the law saw in India say about pornography?

Written by Mohamed Thaver , Edited by Explained Desk | Mumbai |
Updated: February 23, 2021 8:14:01 am
As per the police, after pornographic websites were taken down by the Government of India, these app-based porn platforms became popular, especially proliferating during the lockdown. (Representational image)

The Mumbai police has busted a racket where porn movies were being shot at bungalows in and around Mumbai on shoestring budgets. These half-an-hour films were then uploaded on apps that charged a certain amount per month on the lines of OTT platforms. So far, the Mumbai police has found around 12 such apps involved in streaming pornographic content.

A total of nine persons have been arrested in the case, including small-time actor Gehna Vasisth, for allegedly producing porn films and selling it to various apps.

Why were these apps attracting viewership now? What was the kind of turnover for these apps?

As per police, after pornographic websites were taken down by the Government of India, these app based porn platforms became popular especially proliferating during the lockdown. An officer said that some of these apps charged Rs 199 per month and had around a lakh followers bringing the total amount made by the app per month to around Rs 2 crore. The accused ensured that they spent as little as possible on shooting the porn films by using mobile phones instead of video cameras for shooting and editing it themselves using free softwares on their laptops. In all, it took a crew of only five to seven persons to shoot two to three films a week.

What were the operational costs?

A bungalow on the outskirts of Mumbai can be hired for Rs 10,000 per day for a shoot. The actors were paid Rs 10,000. As there is barely a plot or much dialogue, investment in storytelling is zero. The cops found a two-page script with dialogues when they raided a house in Madh where a shooting was taking place.

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Why were these movies shot in Mumbai?

An officer said that some of the accused arrested in the case worked on the fringes of Bollywood in the past and were based out of the city. A glut of aspiring actors desperate to get a foothold in the industry means there will be some among them that can be duped, into believing they are being given roles in mainstream films or serials, and some who who may be forced to do it for the money.

How did people come to know about these apps?

Content from these apps were pushed on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Telegram and Instagram with links to full shows. The apps worked like OTT platforms that offered users various shows that had weekly episodes uploaded.

What does the law saw in India say about pornography?

The Supreme Court has in the past asked the government to take down pornographic websites after which pornographic websites were blocked in the country. Anyone found broadcasting porn, as in the current case, can be booked under Section 67 (A) of the Information Technology Act (punishment for publishing or transmitting material containing sexually explicit act) which has a maximum of five years imprisonment.

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