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Will she re-script UPFDC story?

WILL RAJYA Sabha loss be UP Film Development Corporation?s gain? This question is doing the rounds as Jaya Bachchan lost her RS seat on Friday. People in the know of action at the UPFDC are asking if Jaya would concentrate more on promoting UP as a potential destination for filmmakers or lose all interest in her job as chairman, UPFDC.

india Updated: Mar 18, 2006 01:17 IST

WILL RAJYA Sabha loss be UP Film Development Corporation’s gain?
This question is doing the rounds as Jaya Bachchan lost her RS seat on Friday. People in the know of action at the UPFDC are asking if Jaya would concentrate more on promoting UP as a potential destination for filmmakers or lose all interest in her job as chairman, UPFDC.

Since she took up the job on December 5, 2003, barring two workshops on scriptwriting there has been little action that merits mention. The script committee, which was her brainchild, did not clear even a single script under the much-hyped subsidy scheme. Also, barring an odd ‘Bunty aur Babli’ and ‘Umrao Jaan-2’, big filmmakers too have by and large kept away from the State. Yet, the State Government extended her tenure for three more years in December last.

Many in the Film Bandhu, a society formed to promote film-culture in the State, are asking what Jaya, or for that matter her predecessor Shatrughan Sinha, had done to better the image of UP as a potential film destination?

In 2001, when the UPFDC was formed, with several top names in Bollywood as its members, one expected that their association would help promote UP as potential film destination.

But, Bollywood top guns came and enjoyed the hospitality of the State. “Expenses on their stay and air tickets alone has been huge. Several meetings of the UPFDC etc but nothing concrete has been achieved,” a source said.

To attract filmmakers from Bollywood, as well as provide a platform to talented people from UP, a subsidy scheme was also announced. Under the scheme, Rs 20 lakh were to be given for shooting Hindi films in the State and Rs 10 lakh for regional cinema. Scores applied under the subsidy scheme that was mired in controversy since inception. Twenty films were cleared under the scheme during Shatrughan Sinha’s tenure of which “barely a handful” showed a semblance of quality.

“Payments to 11 of the 20 films cleared under the subsidy scheme were paid during Sinha’s tenure itself. Of those 11, only a couple of films were screened.

The producers of the rest got payments for preparing stuff that was substandard. Payments were made both to the film lab as well as the producers in blatant violation of norms, which allowed payments only to the lab,” a Film Bandhu member disclosed.

After Jaya took over, the payments of the remaining nine films were also cleared.

However, Jaya went for a quality check and formed a separate script committee to weigh scripts under the scheme.

“The move was well intentioned. But, so far 150 scripts have been sent and none of them got the nod. The money under the scheme is rotting in the bank,” a source said.

Significantly, a source said that only recently the subsidy amount has been raised to Rs 40 lakh from the existing Rs 20 lakh. “When you are not clearing a single film under the subsidy scheme, why raise the amount anyway,” a Film Bandhu member asked.

Everyone in the Film Bandhu was unanimous that Jaya neither took any salary (“there is no provision of salary for UPFDC chairperson”), nor charged any conveyance for her trips as UPFDC chairperson to Lucknow etc.

“In fact, to save cost incurred on the travel of other members, she decided to hold the meetings of the script committee in Mumbai as most live there,” the source said. “For us, big names in UPFDC have meant little. Except the hype, there is nothing else that they have brought to UP,” an official added.

First Published: Mar 18, 2006 01:17 IST