Delhi’s film policy gets a good response; experts suggest quicker permits

Updated on Sep 26, 2022 06:30 AM IST

The national capital is among the hottest destinations among film producers. Delhi Crime Season 2, a popular web series, was shot at various locations in Delhi before the film policy was launched in May

The Delhi government is now working to ensure that all the permissions are obtained through a single window. (Representative image/HT Archive)
The Delhi government is now working to ensure that all the permissions are obtained through a single window. (Representative image/HT Archive)
ByAlok KN Mishra

The Delhi government’s new filming policy under which shooting permission can be obtained online is proving to be a success as there have been nine applications in the four months to August, including for an untitled web series, a Marathi feature film, and an international film, officials said. Producers, however, said the process can be hastened.

Earlier, around 10 applications were received in a year on average, said an official of Delhi Tourism, which handles the online application process. The rates for shooting for each location in Delhi varies from 10,000 to 1 lakh per location shoot, depending on the place. Shooting in some locations like Najafgarh Lake is free.

The national capital is among the hottest destinations among film producers. Delhi Crime Season 2, a popular web series, was shot at various locations in Delhi before the film policy was launched in May. Javed Khan, location manager for the Delhi shooting of the crime drama, said the permission for shooting was obtained from Delhi Police and a large part of the shooting took place at Dwarka police station.

“Delhi has been one of favourite locations for shooting because of the sites of heritage value, and because of the national landmarks like Connaught Place,” Khan said. “These locations are easily identifiable and viewers easily connect with them.”

The practice in Delhi has been to obtain permission for film shooting from multiple sources, depending on shooting needs. If a producer needed to shoot on a street, he obtains permission from police and conducts the shooting without the Delhi government being aware of it. The Delhi government is now working to ensure that all the permissions are obtained through a single window.

Sunil Kumar, a producer who has arranged the shooting of an upcoming Bollywood movie in Delhi, said the application for the permission was made online. “We got the permission in 15 working days, but the permission should be granted within a week,” Kumar said, adding that the shooting of the movie began on Sunday.

Delhi Tourism tries to give permission for film shooting within 15 days, officials said. Delhi has 504 identified shooting locations for filmmakers to select. “As soon as the application is submitted, it automatically goes to the concerned department,” the Delhi tourism official said, requesting anonymity. “For example, if the shooting location is Connaught Place, the application goes to the NDMC, Delhi Police and Traffic Police. We try to ensure that the applications are approved as soon as possible.”

The film policy launched in May is aimed at facilitating ease of doing business for film shooting, the official said. Film experts, however, believe that much needs to be done to make Delhi an attractive destination for shooting.

Film producer and director Manoj Srivastava, who is also former chief executive of the Entertainment Society of Goa, said the film policy is a move in the right direction, but to make it successful, the government needs to further speed up processing the applications.

Srivastava, who is currently shooting in the national capital region for a Kazakhstan movie, said the shooting of certain parts of the film was planned at the Garden of Five Senses in Delhi. “We made an enquiry and learned that we will need over 15 days for permission. There was no other way to speed up the process, and we were running out of time,” he said. “We had to shift the shooting location to Noida, where we got permission through online mode in two days.”

A line producer, a key person of the production team, said in the past two years, at least four producers decided to change locations in the scripts to Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa or other places so that they do not need to go through the difficulties in getting permission for shooting in Delhi.

The multiplicity of agencies and the tussle between the Arvind Kejriwal government and the Bharatiya Janata Party government at the Centre is also one of the hurdles. “The film policy has a provision of automatic approval on the lapsing of 15 days approval window,” the line producer said, seeking anonymity. “But the police refuse to accept this automatic permission and say that law and order does not come under the Delhi government.”

Another line producer shared an interesting anecdote. “We had to arrange shooting inside a house and hotel for an untitled Hollywood movie in July. We decided to apply to the Delhi government for the first seven days of shooting, and we applied to the police for the last eight days of shooting,” he said, declining to be named. “We received the permission for the last eight days of shooting before we received the permission from the Delhi government. The government forwarded the application to fire department, MCD and police, which further lengthened the process.”

The line producer did not share the application number or the date of application. An official in the tourism department said no such application was received through the single window portal.

The officials in the Delhi government, however, agreed that the permission takes time due to multiple factors. “Receiving nine applications in four months is above average. Delhi is a sensitive location, unlike other locations,” the tourism department official said. “It is just the beginning of the ease of doing business for film shooting. Further improvements will take place.”

Comment from AAP government spokesperson awaited….

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