Union Budget 2017 has been announced but the Bollywood film industry, a great source of revenue for the government that also generates employment, is not happy with the measures announced.
Every year, around March, all the industries in India eagerly await the government to announce measures that will give a boost to their respective industries. Even Bollywood expects the Budget to address some of the long-pending issues, and announce new steps that will be beneficial to the film industry.
Usually, before the budget is announced, a delegation (comprising of eminent filmmakers/producers) pay a visit to the power corridors of Delhi, so that they can discuss some of their pressing issues before the budget is announced.
“The Finance Minister did not even mention the film industry in his budget. They feel like we do not exist. They didn’t even touch upon piracy which is impacting us in such a big way and also in turn affecting the government’s revenue. We are saddened,” Film producer Mukesh Bhatt
Other filmmakers like Kunal Kohli were wondering the role of politicians in parliament, who are from the film industry. “I feel members of the film fraternity, who are in the government, should be representing us and they need to put our point across to the government for them to look at. The film industry is in the limelight and is a great source of providing revenue and generating jobs,” Kunal Kohli.
However, a few Bollywood celebrities were impresed with the measures taken.
Singer and music composer Vishal Dadlani was impressed with the government’s move to curb black money by introducing a cap of Rs 2,000 donation from an individual to a political party. He also shared his concerns about the budget providing no reward to upper-middle-class taxpayers.
— VISHAL DADLANI (@VishalDadlani) February 1, 2017
Union Budget: Does the Indian Entertainment Industry Exist for the Government?
People from the entertainment are seen as the cultural ambassadors of the country; despite that many feel that the entertainment industry doesn’t not exist for the Indian government.
The film industry expects the government to announce positive steps in the following areas:
Entertainment taxes in India are among the highest in the world, and for long, producers/distributors/exhibitors have been asking for changes in the tax department.
The entertainment tax is not uniform in the country and varies from state to state. It needs to be uniform and should be lowered.
Its also one of the areas of concerns for several foreign investors who are looking to invest in India.
Rebates & Reduction in Import Duties on Filming Equipment
Most producers feel that while Indian filmmakers are given rebates for filming abroad, the same cannot be said of most states in India. Besides, cameras, and other filming equipment are expensive, and most from the industry want some reduction in import duties on filming equipment.
Indian government does not offer subsidies to filmmakers to shoot in the country or state, much like how foreign countries do. The state of Uttar Pradesh offers subsidies, but it is not the same for the remaining states.
Easing of Regulatory Norms
Filmmakers are also not happy with the several rules/regulations laid down by censor board, as they feel it comes in the way of creativity (and also investments worth crores of rupees).
The film industry is especially not happy with the anti-smoking disclaimer that has to be put up on the screen, every time a cigarette is lit on the screen. You may have noticed that in some of the recent films and it can be quite annoying. Perhaps, removing that scene altogether could help (although that’s the director’s call).
One Window Clearance
Although most state governments are eager to assist film shoots, most from the industry feel that at least we should have a one window clearance for permissions for Hollywood shoots.
We are not expecting anything because our government (any government) doesn’t think about the entertainment industry. For them, perhaps we don’t even exist. Why should I simply make a wishlist of mine, why should I waste my time and energy on it, I know nothing is going to happen,” filmmaker Prakash Jha of Gangaajal fame.
In general, here’s what the Entertainment Industry expects from the government:
- Abolition of the service tax on artistes
- Reduction and rationalisation of state level entertainment taxes
- Tax incentives/holiday to encourage investments in cinema screens
- Budget allocation for anti-piracy campaign and measures
Use of Cuss Words
The film industry, which is already objecting to the mandatory anti-smoking disclaimer, now has to deal with another issue – the use of ‘cuss words’. Censor board recently banned the use of several ‘Cuss words’ (foul words, and other objectionable words, including use of ‘Bombay’) in films, which has sent the filmmakers in a frenzy, because they think that it will really impede their creativity.
A team of delegates from Bollywood are in touch with the ministers in Delhi to sort out these issues. Hopefully, they should be able to arrive at some amicable solutions to these issues.