Piracy is eating into the profits of Hindi films lately, and for Bollywood producer Ritesh Sidhwani, it’s no laughing matter. He says endorsing piracy is akin to supporting terrorism and he is all for stricter laws to curb the menace.

Of late, multiple films have been leaked online before their release. Even crucial scenes from biggies like “Mohenjo Daro” and “Rustom” surfaced online, while the pre-release availability of the uncensored version of controversial “Udta Punjab” was a much-talked about leak.

Sidhwani finds this scenario dismal.

“I think education is the key. People need to be educated that by encouraging and endorsing piracy you are basically, according to me, endorsing terrorism,” Sidhwani told IANS over phone from Mumbai.

“Because the money you put into buying something or consuming something which is not legit… Where do you think the black money flows to’ It goes into drugs and terrorism,” he added.

When films like “Manjhi: The Mountain Man”, “Udta Punjab” and “Great Grand Masti” were leaked, it not only stumped industry professionals, but also fuelled the long-standing debate on how piracy could be tackled.

It’s not just that creativity is at stake — but there’s a whole lot of money riding on the films.

India’s film industry, the largest globally with some 1,000 movies produced each year, earns around $2 billion from legitimate sources such as screening at theatres, home videos and TV rights. But at $2.7 billion, piracy earns 35 per cent more, Uday Singh, Managing Director, Motion Picture Distributors’ Association (India), told IANS in an earlier interview.

Sidhwani, who heads production banner Excel Entertainment with actor Farhan Akhtar, stressed that the government needs to take a “strong step” to counter the menace.

“First, you have to be personally responsible. Secondly, I believe our government needs to take a very strong step on piracy. The law needs to be stringent. Only if a stringent law is in place, people will think 10 times before servicing content which is pirated or even consuming that content.”

For Sidhwani, there is no a single person to blame. “Both ends — servicing and consuming — need to be dealt with harshly,” he said.

As a producer, Sidhwani has backed big-ticket films like “Dil Chahta Hai”, “Lakshya”, “Don”, “Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd.”, “Rock On!!”, “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara”, “Fukrey”, “Dil Dhadakne Do”.

And now his banner has films like “Baar Baar Dekho”, “Rock On!! 2” and “Raees” lined up.

Charged up over the Sidharth Malhotra-Katrina Kaif starrer “Baar Baar Dekho”, directed by debutant Nitya Mehra, Sidhwani said: “We haven’t done a full-on romantic film in Excel Entertainment in the last 15 years… So it is exciting. Both of them have an amazing chemistry.”

The makers released a promotional song, “Kala chashma”, before the trailer, on Flickbay, touted as Bollywood’s official mobile App. And it climbed up the chartbuster ladder in no time.

Produced by Excel Entertainment and Dharma Productions, the film is slated for release on September 9.