Declared tax-free, Kashyap’s ‘Saand ki Aankh’ not on UP govt’s film subsidy list
The Uttar Pradesh government could clear subsidy worth Rs 118.7 million (Rs 11.87 crore) for 22 feature films shot in the state though filmmaker Anurag Kashyap’s ‘Saand ki Aankh’, which the Adityanath government had declared tax-free in 2019, is not among them, according to officials privy to the development.
‘Saand Ki Aankh’ stars Taapsee Pannu and Bhumi Pednekar. The film is based on the life of Chandro Tomar and Prakashi Tomar, two grandmothers from UP’s Baghpat who learnt shooting at the age of 60 years and went on to earn accolades.
“The file for sanctioning subsidy is lying with the chief minister’s office and clearance for those 22 films that meet provisions of the UP Film Policy would be given soon after the chief minister’s nod,” a government official told HT.
Kashyap, the producer of ‘Saand ki Aankh’, has been vocal in his opposition to the new citizenship law and was also among 49 celebrities who had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi against growing intolerance, though they were countered by another group of Bollywood celebrities like Madhur Bhandarkar, who had criticised Kashyap for seeking subsidy from the same government which he was criticising.
Thirty-one other films have been cleared by the script screening committee in the state. Officials of Film Bandhu said every week, they were getting at least three to four proposals from filmmakers wanting to shoot in UP and to avail government subsidy.
Asked why subsidy for ‘Saand ki Aankh’ was held up, a government official said, “Motives are being wrongly attributed to us. A letter dated September 13, 2019 was sent to Kashyap seeking details on four points. It was this government which granted tax-free status to Kashyap’s film.”
In his missive of September 13, 2019, UP’s culture secretary Shishir Singh had informed Kashyap of the technicalities that needed to be in order for the subsidy.
Kashyap was targeted by BJP spokesperson Tejinder Pal Singh Bagga.
“@anuragkashyap72 got Rs 2 crore from Akhilesh Yadav for his film Masaan. He wants similar amounts for his other films like Mukkebaaz and Saand ki Aankh, which the current UP government is still evaluating. That perhaps explains his tirade against the BJP and the Modi government,” Bagga recently tweeted with copies of the government response to Kashyap as well as a previous government order passed during former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav’s regime which had, in February 2016, cleared subsidies worth 94.1 million (Rs 9.41 crore) to 21 films.
Back then, Kashyap was among the biggest beneficiaries, getting Rs 20 million (Rs 2 crore) for his film ‘Masaan’.
In 2018, the Yogi Adityanath government had reworked the UP film policy to extend cash subsidies, which were till then available only to Hindi films and those made in UP regional languages, to films shot in English or any regional language.
Under fire for seeking subsidy for his films, Anurag Kashyap took to twitter, attaching the UP film policy urging his critics, who have accused him of seeking subsidy, to have a look at it.
“Have a look at how the film subsidy is given,” he tweeted.
In a series of tweets, he also attached previous invites from the Yogi Adityanath government to him.
“Under the film policy, subsidy goes to the producer. As far as Masaan is concerned, got the subsidy during Yogi’s tenure ... Film Bandhu invites me to promote itself ... but I don’t go,” he tweeted on Saturday. (While the subsidy for Masaan was sanctioned during the Akhilesh regime, Kashyap claimed he got it from the Yogi government).
Kashyap is the producer of ‘Saand ki Aankh’ but he has directed ‘Mukkebaaz’, a distinction he sought to make to his critics who clubbed both subsidy-seeking films to target him.
In yet another tweet, he said he was invited by the Yogi government thrice last year.
“I didn’t go because it became clear why they invite me ... My self respect is alive still ... I also have a copy of those invites,” he tweeted.
BJP leader Shalabh Mani Tripathi, the UP chief minister’s advisor, targeted Kashyap.
“Failing to get subsidy, this filmmaker got desperate and has started abusing. Some governments allowed him subsidy even for his flop films, also gave him Yash Bharti pension. But Yogiji disallowed free pension and distributed the amount among the needy and that is the main reason for discontent,” Tripathi said.
Tripathi was referring to the fact that soon after coming to power the Yogi Adityanath government had stopped the monthly pension of Rs 50,000 that was started for Yash Bharti and Padma awardees by Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party government and ordered a review of the Yash Bharti awards. Yogi had directed that the criteria for selecting the awardees for Yash Bharati – the highest UP government award - that Mulayam Singh Yadav government had set up in 1994-95 be reviewed. Kashyap was among the recipients.
UP FILM POLICY
The Yogi Adityanath government has revised the existing film policy. Under the new policy if half of a film has been shot in the state, the producer would be eligible for a subsidy of Rs 10 million (Rs 1 crore), while shooting two-thirds of it in the state would make the producer eligible for Rs 20 million (Rs 2 crore). Including four to five actors from the state in his film makes the state producer eligible for 2.5 million (Rs 25 lakh), while an all UP star cast make a producer eligible for Rs 5 million (Rs 50 lakh).