Kolkata — Competing with mainstream feature films, a documentary on the life of an electricity thief in Kanpur is showing in around 50 theaters across 12 cities in India.

Unlike other documentaries which are released quietly on DVDs, the producers of “Katiyabaaz” (“Powerless”) successfully managed to release the film in theaters Aug. 22.

"It took us a few months to convince big multiplex chains like Inox and PVR to release it just like a regular feature film on their screens. We have been successful in doing that as in the first week, the film is showing in 49 theaters across 12 cities," said Deepti Kakkar, who co-directed the film with Fahad Mustafa.

The two directors had wanted to go beyond film festivals and DVD releases for their 80-minute documentary. They are also planning a DVD release later.

"Truth is stranger than fiction. Then why should a documentary film not be treated at par with a regular feature film?" Kakkar said.

To market “Katiyabaaz,” the directors have tied up with Anurag Kashyap-led Phantom Films.

In the second week, the film would be shown in around 80 theaters in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kanpur and Lucknow, she said.

In Kolkata, research body CUTS International is organizing the film’s screening at Nandan.

"We want to generate mass awareness, assess the energy sector policies and build up a common consensus against electricity issues such as power theft. Increasing transmission and distribution losses as a result of power theft is a major concern," CUTS director Keya Ghosh said.

“Katiyabaaz” documents the real-life story of 28-year-old Loha Singh, who steals electricity in Kanpur and sells illegal electric connections to the rich while providing free connections to the poor.

The documentary was premiered at the prestigious Berlin International Film Festival and has traveled to 50 festivals across all continents. It was also awarded the National Award for Best Investigative Film this year. 

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