The Union Budget 2017-18 might have addressed concerns of farmers and rural population, and offered betterment for the salaried class, but the film fraternity is fuming. No exemption of entertainment tax, no relief after demonetisation that affected film revenues, and not even a mention of the film industry — deeply disappointed, Bollywood celebs say it’s not just this year that the entertainment industry has been neglected. This has been happening for years now.
Filmmaker Hansal Mehta says, “It’s not this government who has sidelined us. It’s been happening for the last twenty years, since I have been making films. I have been made to not expect anything in the Union Budget for the film industry because it’s not really regarded as an industry in the scheme of things for the government. As long as filmmakers are giving tax and entertainment tax to the state government, I don’t think anything bothers them because we are very compliant and we’ve always been this way. It’s clear that films are not their priority.”
As long as filmmakers are giving tax and entertainment tax to the state government, I don’t think anything bothers them... It’s clear that films are not their priority: Hansal Mehta
Trade analyst Amul Mohan adds, “We are the industry which has the majority of tax-paying individuals. But time and again, we see that no relief or anything of that sort has ever been offered to us. It’s been more than a decade that things have not changed. I can’t even remember the last great reform the industry was given on a budget day, and that’s sad.”
For years, Bollywood has been at loggerheads with the entertainment tax and even this year. Distributor Sanjay Ghai says it’s upsetting that the government expects a lot from the film industry but gives nothing in return. “When have they (government) ever paid attention to us that they will consider us now? Anyway, we were not even expecting anything from the budget, rather they expect entertainment and service tax from us. We get articles printed for our film promotions and it becomes a data for the government. We have never got anything. We have no expectations from this government. They have looted us and will continue to do so.”
Singer Kailash Kher adds that nobody takes the creative industry seriously. “Although a heavy percentage of the income from this industry goes towards the country’s growth, the government only focuses on increasing the service tax, but doesn’t feel that we should be supported.”
Filmmaker Kunal Kohli, however, says it’s a two-way process, and that it’s not fair to put all the blame on the government, rather it’s important that the industry also takes a strong stand.
People from the film industry who have entered politics, it’s their responsibility to represent us as an industry, says Kunal Kohli
“As an industry, we need to widen our association, make presentations with the government and put our point and demands across. (Also), people from the film industry who have entered politics, I think it’s their responsibility to represent us as an industry because they come into politics because of the popularity they have gained by being members of the fraternity. We are a very small industry given the larger perspective, so we have to make our voice heard.”
Actor-filmmaker Piyush Mishra also has a differing, strong opinion. “Bollywood is an autonomous industry and does not require anybody’s support to run. We have independent producers who put in money and make profits for themselves. So I’m not even sure if the industry on a whole has anything to do the budget. Honestly, I feel nobody even bothers about it. Some won’t even know what the budget really is, when does it comes and whether it is for India or Pakistan,” he says.
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