A delegation of actors, directors and executives from the Indian film industry recently met Indian PM Narendra Modi to discuss matters pertinent to the film and entertainment sector. The delegation included participants like Akshay Kumar and Karan Johar. Later, Narendra Modi shared a picture of the meeting on his Twitter handle and said that it was a fruitful discussion. However, soon the picture was criticised as there was not even a single woman in the meeting
Had an extensive and fruitful interaction with a delegation from the film and entertainment industry.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 18, 2018
I surely think it was a mistake on the part of the organisers. They could have definitely invited Deepika Padukone, Aishwarya Rai or Farah Khan. Even the presence of Smriti Irani may not have attracted criticism. I am sure they will be careful the next time.
So why is it that, despite the availability of beautiful locations in India, most film-makers opt for foreign locations?
Here are few important reasons:
- Getting the various clearances to shoot at various locations in India can be a very tough task.
It takes time, and can be lots of hassle, to deal with the bureaucratic steps to obtain the various permissions. So for instance, if you want to film in Kashmir, you’ll need to take permission from the Ministry of Home Affairs. If you want to film in some forest, you’ll have to approach the Environment/forest Ministry and so on.
As you can see, if you want to shoot in multiple locations in India, you may have to take permissions from several government bodies in India, which can really be a challenge. This is what puts off most film studios.
And perhaps that is the reason so many filmmakers are more than happy to shoot their films abroad, despite it being a bit expensive. At least they know for sure that the shooting will happen as per the schedule.
Says director Anees Bazmee, “In India, people do not even know about the script and how the film will shape up, but still object to shooting because they have certain pre-conceived notions. From morning till night, police keep barging into our sets to ask us for proof of permission and pose random questions only to scare us. However, in a foreign country, police come on the sets to check if our shoot is going on smoothly and if there are any concerns. That’s the attitude difference. Undoubtedly, it is difficult to shoot in India.”
- Need for better support
In India, its difficult to control things such as crowd and traffic. People in India love movies and the moment they come to know that there’s a film shoot going on, it can quickly turn into a very crowded spot. That’s where you need adequate support from the local bodies, including the police, to help control the crowd and also to transport the crew from one location to another.
Says Filmmaker Vipul Shah, “The team has to start looking for a location all over again to ensure the scripted scene suits the planned location. This sometimes can be really tough. A lot of time and effort go waste. Forget abroad, at least in India, we should have the freedom to shoot anywhere within the country.”
- Filmmakers don’t get subsidies or concessions from the government.
Making a movie is like undertaking a big project, and you need the right budget, as well as all the support to execute the various stages in the film-making process.
For most studios, it turns out to be cheaper to shoot in foreign locations because of the several concessions they’re offered. Some foreign tourism boards also help with the logistics to the production team.
- Need for lower Entertainment Taxes
This may not have a direct impact on filming in India, but those who’re in the entertainment sector and wish to do business in India, find the higher entertainment taxes a major hindrance.
Especially in states like Maharashtra, the entertainment tax is very high, and most feel that it needs to be revised downwards.
“What we need is better infrastructure and studios everywhere in India, not only to showcase poverty and elephants, but other aspects too. There is much more to India.” – Anumpam Kher
Government Mulling ‘Single Window’ for Easy Film-TV Permissions
However, the situation has been improving lately, although a lot more needs to be done. Lot more transparency and consistency needs to be introduced. Best would be to introduce a single window clearance for shooting films in India, that will make obtaining the permissions much faster and hassle-free. That will attract even foreign film-makers in India.
In a bid to look more business friendly, the state government is planning to introduce a sinle-window system for alll neceaasry permissions required for producing films and televisin serials. The authorities intend to provide the requisite permssions within 7 days.
Getting the various permissions from the various government agencies is indeed a pain area for the film industry.
Can you believe there are around 30-32 permissions required, invloving the police, fire brigade and the local BMC ward, which is a colossal wate of time on the part of the film production team.
So this is definitely a welcome news for the film industry, and the good thing is that the ‘one-wondow’ facility will be setup at Goregaon film city.
Foreign film permissions to go online via Film Tourism Portal
The Film Facilitation Office (FFO) of India, operated by the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC), setup to assist international film shoots in India, will now provide film permissions online.
The single window clearance office will start assisting foreign films first and soon will extend the facility to Indian films as well.
The online film permissions will help cut red tape.
“If any Indian filmmaker wants us to connect to any foreign film commission, we will do so,” Film Facilitation Office
Besides, FFO is a collaboration of the I&B ministry and NFDC, so the focus of FFO will also be on co-productions where Indian and foreign filmmakers can make films together (for example The Lunchbox).
Promoting Film Shoots in India
The Indian film industry is big, they churn out thousands of movies every year, it attracts several foreign technicians, but for some reason, most filmmakers chose to shoot their films in foreign locations, and not as much in India.
To promote India as a film tourism hub, the Film Facilitation Office (FFO) was set up recently to make the country a “film-friendly destination.”
A new film tourism portal will be operational soon that will allow filmmakers to submit online applications for filming in India. The site will provide information on the various ministries involved/clearances needed to begin shooting, various scenic locations and service providers in India.
India offers a range of locations for shooting films, be it forts, lakes, ancient cities, historic landmarks or the breathtaking Himalayan mountain ranges.
There have been some Hollywood films that have been shot in India, and even Bollywood movies are filmed in India, but the scales are smaller, and in terms of percentage, the movies filmed here are very few in numbers.
There’s no doubt that India is as a good shooting location and offers a variety of landscapes to filmmakers; you can capture beauty even in tough places or slums.