While Bollywood actors Anupam Kher, Neena Gupta and Rakesh Bedi enacted the much-awaited play ‘Mera woh matlab nahi tha’ at the Tagore Theatre on Wednesday, the city Youth Congress leaders held a protest condemning the UT administration for waving off the entertainment tax on the play. The entry tickets for the play were sold for Rs 500, Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,500.
RTI activist RK Garg also highlighted the administration gave permission to stage the play by charging entry tickets but did not levy any tax.
“The Tagore Theatre Society is sold tickets for the play but didn’t paid tax,” he said, adding the UT cultural affairs department had put up banners displaying information about the play all around the city.
When contacted, deputy commissioner Ajit Balaji Joshi said the administration has the discretion to wave off tax on any play.
Sources say in February, to promote theatre, art and culture, the administration had waived off the entertainment duty — which was earlier 30% on a ticket — on tickets at the Tagore Theatre. For a theatre group registered in the city, the minimum rent was between Rs 10,000 and Rs 15,000. Theatre artistes had to pay entertainment tax in advance for all seats, even if only half of them were occupied. The amount was later refunded for the non-occupied seats. It was decided in February that groups holding plays and selling tickets will not have to pay any entertainment tax on tickets of up to Rs 200.
UT home secretary Anurag Aggarwal had also stated that the administration was planning to make theatre ‘tax free’ in Chandigarh. Actor Anupam Kher said, “It’s high time that theatre should be given the respect what it deserves. In small cities where theatre is not encouraged, there should be proper entry tickets… you only respect something when you pay for it.” Clarifying staging of the play for free in Shimla, Kher said, “Shimla does the entire festival for free, but from the next time, there will be entry tickets.”