On September 11, 2009, Hindi film star Salman Khan played himself in an episode of the immensely popular Sony Entertainment Television crime show CID. The episode is entitled “Khoon Piracy Racket” and unravels the murder of a private investigator hired to prevent the piracy of Khan’s upcoming film Wanted. The episode is one of the myriad attempts by the Indian media industry to educate the consumer on proper attitudes towards unauthorized discs. Here the lessons of intellectual property become manifest through the charisma of the plot: Salman Khan is a hard working and creative actor. Those who distribute pirated DVDs cause him harm. If you succumb to buying one, you too will harm Salman and you’ll be stuck with a poor quality product, the purchase of which will nourish all varieties of low lifes and thugs...
While the presence of the DVD in the episode is generally used towards such instructive ends, the final scene goes beyond the rational norms of IP compliance. Here, Khan and other members of the cast of Wanted stand at the Mumbai docks with the two police inspectors. In a jocular mood, they sing “Mera Hi Jalwa,” a song from the film, and compliment each other for nabbing the pirates. Gesturing towards four oil canisters, the inspector gives Salman the go-ahead to ignite the fake Wanted DVDs. Salman teases that this is their “Diwali” (festival of lights). As the flames rise, Salman praises the inspector, saying, “The nation’s proud of you, Sir!”
The moment is triumphal and the atmosphere carnivalesque, offering a display that stands visually apart from the rest of the episode. But what exactly are the burning DVDs saying? If the creation of a DVD is called "burning" due to the process by which a laser melts a pattern onto a disc to add data, perhaps we can think of the burning here as symbolizing the excess data of the pirated DVD. The fact that Salman is the agent of the event, encouraged by the inspector to start the fire, breaks down the boundaries between state and citizen and between policing and recreation. Given that there is no marked difference between an original and the copy, the burning of the discs could just as easily be read here as a lawless act, a violation of procedure and destruction of property.