Thiruvananthapuram: In the dreary world of Malayalam movies where box office failures are far more common than successes, one film has stood out this year: the Nivin Pauly-starrer, Premam. But the movie is making news for different reasons as its producer Anwar Rasheed has petitioned the police about pirated copies of his movie being circulating widely.

Throwing their weight behind Rasheed, theatre owners in Kerala are mulling shutting down theatres to bring attention on the menace of piracy that is debilitating the Malayalam film industry. Kerala Film Exhibitors Federation president, Liberty Basheer said the investigation into the complaint of piracy so far had been “a sham”.

Rasheed and some others in the film industry suspect the film may have been pirated from the Film Censor Board, and police have registered a case after Rasheed lodged a formal complaint.

At the heart of the suspicion is Rasheed’s finding that the pirated version of the film had the water mark of the censor copy. The issue took a more serious turn when Basheer alleged the film’s copies were leaked out from studios, one of them owned by film director Priyadarshan.

Priyadarshan denied the allegations, pointing out that it was the water mark of the censor copy that was found on the pirated version. He argued that if the copy had been leaked from his mixing studio, it would have carried the water mark of the mixing copy.

Priyadarshan in turn approached the chairman of the Central Film Censor Board, Pahlaj Nihalani, seeking action against those who have played a role in the piracy of the popular film. Nihalani is scheduled to make a visit to Kerala next week to look into the issue.

The anti-piracy cell of the police has visited a studio in the state capital and also collected some data from the Censor Board office here. Police will soon be questioning some of the professionals associated with the making of the movie and its post-production works.

Meanwhile, the pirated version of the movie is doing the rounds on the internet, and police have arrested more than half a dozen people from different parts of the state in connection with downloading of the pirated version.

Angered by the piracy of his blockbuster movie, Rasheed has resigned from the film fraternity associations.

Malayalam superstar Mammootty has also assured his support to Rasheed via a social media post.