Union Budget 2019 has suggested several measures for the Bollywood film industry. Bollywood is a great source of revenue for the government, generates employment, and people from the entertainment are seen as the cultural ambassadors of the country.
Every year, around Feb-Mar, 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.
Film industry in India has always been concerned about piracy of films, and any step by the Government to curb piracy will always be welcomed by the film industry.
Its a known fact that a lot of films get stolen from cinema halls, mostly using the camera of the phone.
Indian governments move to include an anti-camcording provision in the Cinematography Act to control piracy has been specifically hailed by the film fraternity. The anti-camcording provision will prohibit the illegal filming and recording of films in theatres.
How much impact the new anti-camcording provision will have on piracy remains to be seen, but right now filmmakers are happy about it and believe the provision will give more teeth to the law and will go a long way towards reducing piracy.
“Anti-camcording provision is the need of the hour as piracy is one of the causes for the loss of revenue. It will be helpful in taking strict action against the offenders” – Filmmaker Anees Bazmee.
“The amendments in the Anti-camcording provision will support the industry’s growth by curtailing illegal recordings of films in cinema halls and will go a long way towards reducing piracy” – Siddharth Roy Kapur, President, Producers Guild of India.
Welcome move by @narendramodi Government for initiating Anti-Camcording provision in the Cinematography Act to fight Piracy and Single window clearance for Film Shootings.This will help the Film Industry in a Big Way.🙏#Budget2019
— Madhur Bhandarkar (@imbhandarkar) February 1, 2019
Union Budget 2019 announces several positive measures for the film industry
Finance Minister announces several benefits for the entertainment sector while presenting Budget 2019. Few of them worth mentioning are single-window clearance for Indian filmmakers, anti-camcording provisions and reduction in GST on movie tickets.
- Single-window clearance (for ease of shooting films): Available only to foreigners till now, this will be made available to Indian filmmakers as well.
- Anti-camcording provisions in the Cinematograph Act to control: to control the menace of piracy.
- Reduction of Goods & Services Tax (GST) on movie tickets: From 18 percent to 12 percent for those priced up to Rs 100 and from 28 percent to 18 percent for ones costing more than Rs 100.
In the last few months, several political films and biopics have released in theatres (The Accidental Prime Minister, Thackeray) and a couple of movies have also been announced on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
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.
In the past, filmmakers were unhappy with the steps taken by the government for the entertainment/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,” Filmmaker Kunal Kohli.
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.
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.
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.