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Shutdown in Bollywood?

No lights, no camera, no action. And, no screenings. The entire Indian film industry, including Bollywood, Tollywood and elsewhere, is getting ready for a big bandh at the end of this month to protest against the government’s proposal of bringing the trade under the purview of service tax.

bollywood Updated: Feb 03, 2012 01:19 IST
Navdeep Kaur Marwah
Arjun-Rampal-is-playing-the-male-lead-in-Madhur-Bhandarkar-s-Heroine
Arjun-Rampal-is-playing-the-male-lead-in-Madhur-Bhandarkar-s-Heroine

No lights, no camera, no action. And, no screenings. The entire Indian film industry, including Bollywood, Tollywood and elsewhere, is getting ready for a big bandh at the end of this month to protest against the government’s proposal of bringing the trade under the purview of service tax.

The nationwide shutdown has been proposed by the Film Federation of India (FFI) — the apex body of the film industry in the country — on February 23. “There is no denying that the entire Indian film industry is in deep trouble because of various taxes it is subjected to, and the imposition of service tax will further increase its burden. This blackout aims to show the government how much producers are suffering,” says Vinod Lamba, president, FFI.

Producers support the move. “We fail to understand the rationale behind imposing service tax. We are already paying entertainment tax and VAT (value added tax). How much more unfriendly can the government get? Our taxes are being put at par with alcohol and tobacco ... is entertaining the public also a sin?” asks Tanuj Garg, CEO, Balaji Motion Pictures.

Filmmaker Pritish Nandy says, “The government does not realise that increasing taxes is always counter-productive. Our taxes are getting wider and less responsible. I think we need to all protest.” Producer-director Mahesh Bhatt feels it’s the only way out: “The producers have only got empty assurances from the government. Jab bachcha rota hai tabhi ma sunti hain. So, the industry has to resolve to cry for help.”

However, some think it’s a bad idea. Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar has said “he doesn’t approve” of the strike as it will impact the shoot of his film Heroine, and trade analyst Atul Mohan says, “I don’t think a one-day strike will generate the desired impact.” In 2009, Bollywood shut down for two months due to a stand-off between producers and multiplexes on the issue of revenue-sharing.