Winds of change: What Bollywood wants from new I&B ministry

With leaders from the film and television world all set to meet the new I&B minister, Prakash Javadekar, on June 7, we take a look at what the industry is expecting from the central government

With the new government taking office, the film and television industry is hoping to get an audience with Prakash Javadekar, the newly appointed Information and Broadcasting minister.

Anurag Kashyap
Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, who is looking forward to meeting the minister, wants to use this opportunity well. Pic/Satyajit Desai

Javadekar, who was in Mumbai a few days ago, told hitlist, “I will be back in Mumbai on June 7 and I will meet them then.” BJP leader Shaina NC, who is coordinating the meeting, says, “As a party we realise the need for a dialogue with the industry and keeping this in mind, the BJP wants to initiate an interaction with the art and cultural fraternity.”

Dia Mirza wants the I&B ministry to give tax breaks to the film industry
Dia Mirza wants the I&B ministry to give tax breaks to the film industry

Creative freedom
Mukesh Bhatt says that as the President of the Film and Television Producers’ Guild, he has made several presentations to the government but these have yielded no results so far. He now wants the new government to partner with them. The producer says, “There are many issues that need to be addressed. First and foremost is the creative problem; it’s about censorship. There are fears that the Bajrang Dal and the RSS might throttle our creative freedom. Also, we need the ministry to help us build more cinema halls across the country. And last but not the least, there is a need to create a bond between the government and industry. We need to nurture a spirit of togetherness and not us against them only then can healthy growth happen.”

Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap too is looking forward to meeting the minister. “But I don’t want to say what I want to ask the minister because I want to prepare for the meeting and use this opportunity well.”

Tigmanshu Dhulia
Tigmanshu Dhulia

Tax breaks
Actress and producer Dia Mirza has a long list to spell out. She says, “It is imperative for the Censor Board to accommodate the freedom of expression of artistes. A film must be given a suitable certificate. Strict implementation must happen at a theatre level to ensure that only those of suitable age watch films with different certifications. After that the audience must be allowed to accept or reject content, much like they do with governments and candidates.”

Mukesh Bhatt, filmmaker
Mukesh Bhatt, filmmaker

She also wants the government to give the industry genuine tax breaks. “We are an industry that adds to our diversity; we contribute to the national ex-chequer and provide employment. Plus filmmaking and theatrical distribution are only becoming more expensive by the day. It’s time for the tax structure to be revised; obtaining permissions to shoot needs to be made simpler. The government should encourage our efforts as opposed to having us run from pillar to post just to meet some formalities,” she says.

Tigmanshu Dhulia says that the ministry should look at revising entertainment tax. “Films are made in Mumbai and yet the entertainment tax in Maharashtra is the highest. There is no tax in Punjab and so the films released in that territory generate good revenue. Also, the government is only levying taxes but what are they doing about piracy or subsidised theatres. They should look at the industry with a more compassionate view. There has to be a slab on service tax because there is so much disparity in the income of people involved in filmmaking,” says the filmmaker.

Digitisation and piracy
Television industry too has some concerns. Raj Nayak, CEO, Colors, says, “As a BJP spokesperson, Mr Javadekar has developed robust relations with the media and the masses. This gives him the edge to constantly know the pulse of the people. He is known to advocate freedom of speech, which gives us hope that he will expedite solutions on issues pertaining to the media and entertainment sector. Pricing deregulation, digitisation and discrepancies in clearance mechanisms are some of the issues that need to be addressed to help the industry gain momentum.”

Uday Singh, Managing Director, Motion Picture Dist. Association India, says that the prevailing complex tax system, development needs in terms of infrastructure, technology and talent, and most importantly, piracy continue to undermine the industry’s growth potential. “While the government’s steps on the digitisation of cable TV continue, we want the government to implement specific anti-camcording provisions in the upcoming Draft Cinematograph Bill, 2013, and promote and institutionalise the ‘single window clearance system’ for film shooting in India,” he says.

With mobile penetration continuing to increase and more users now having access to 3G/ 4G internet speeds, Singh adds that combating online piracy is the need of the hour.

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