No tax for being entertained

Director Sudhir Mishra to file PIL against entertainment tax on Hindi films, says burden shouldn’t be on audience.
Hindustan Times | By Prashant Singh, Mumbai
UPDATED ON MAR 11, 2011 05:27 PM IST

Yeh Saali Zindagi director Sudhir Mishra wants to alter the ‘lives’ of moviegoers now. The filmmaker is gearing up to file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) for the abolition of entertainment tax on movies.

“Yes, I am going to file a PIL in about 10 days,” confirms Mishra. “Why should the audiences be taxed for just getting entertained? Our emphasis should be on bringing in maximum audiences to theatres.”

In India, the entertainment tax in India is usually applicable for large-scale entertainment shows, sponsored private festivals, movie tickets, video game arcades, and amusement parks among others. Each cinema admission ticket, for example, includes the entertainment tax varying from 25-30 per cent. Mishra contends that high prices of movie tickets isn’t good news, especially for the masses. “Movie viewing seems to be becoming a privilege only for upper classes. We need to think about all kinds of audiences. The government waives off entertainment tax from a particular kind of films, but I want them to do it across the board,” he says.

According to Mishra, who has made films such as Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi (2005), Chameli (2004) and Is Raat Ki Subah Nahi (1996), movies are always associated with happiness. "In India, and even worldwide, movie viewing is generally associated with happiness quotient, much like the economic and success index. So, how can you levy tax on people’s happiness?" he questions.

For some time now, producers have been requesting the government to remove entertainment tax. Producers feel that if entertainment tax is abolished, the exhibition sector, including single-screen cinemas, will also get the fillip it now needs. According to them, the film industry’s three key sectors - production, distribution and exhibition - are already overburdened with taxes levied at multiple points.

Mishra doesn’t want the government to stop levying tax on the industry. “Remove the entertainment tax, let all the producers earn and then derive income tax from them. So to put it simply: if a big banner earns more, the authorities get a fatter income tax from them and if a small banner earns less, the income tax can be charged accordingly. But don’t put the burden on the audience,” says Mishra.

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