Respected Prime Minister,
Film Federation of India is the apex body of film industry duly recognized by Information and Broadcasting Ministry and the Federation has been active for more than six decades.
We wish to bring to your kind attention the problems and immense potential of the industry to become leading global player. During last six decades Governments have been sleeping partner, taxing it at various levels and never exploring its unimaginable potential. Sir, we have been producing highest number of films in the world for decades and yet our simple demands to expansion have been ignored.
As you are aware of the fact that cinema flourished in the days of Industrial Revolution all over the world. Early cinema houses were the Godowns in the industrial area and the small security box sold tickets, since, then the collections have been addressed as the BOX OFFICE, which continues to be used even to-day all over the world although it occurred in American Industrial belts in the late 19th century and 20th century.
Science and technology created this medium of mass popular culture. It has always been the most influential medium. This magical medium functions and thrives on collective sub-consciousness of people coming from various income groups and belonging to various faiths and religions. Our audience symbolises unity amidst diversity. The essence and growth of this business entirely depends on the pulse of the people, the people coming from lowest income group to the invisible classes representing humanity as a whole.
Sir, the reaction to a book or any art form varies from individual to individual but hundreds of people watching a film react almost the same way. Audience applauding a scene or a song remains the same from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and surprisingly same from Paris to Patna and Manhattan to Madras. Such is the magic of cinema, such is its hypnotic power, Cinema is not called ‘Movies’ because the reels move in projection room or moving images projected on screen but cinema moves audience emotionally. Reaction of audience reflects social mood of Nation and unfortunately it has not been studied or analysed by social science. Just as example is that post Jai Prakash Narayan agitation against corruption, Salim Javed created the `angry young man image’ enacted by Amitabh Bachchan who had given eleven flops before `Zanzeer’ ` Deewar’ and `Sholay’ and since, this `image’ expressed the anger of masses it established instant emotional support with people of India. And Arnab Goswami is merely copying the same image on small screen today.
Sir, Indian cinema has created New mythology and it should not be lost as we have lost most of vedic age classics.
Sir, the Britisher sent their plain clothed detectives to temples, mosques and Gurudwaras and the unrest of people was reported to Shimla Head Office and its believed that the Britishers destroyed the history of unrest and social anger. Sir, cinema halls are the places where people express their agony and ecstasy. How such a business should not flourish when India becomes a global leader ?
I.) LACK OF SUFFICIENT SCREENS
We have only nine thousand single screen cinema houses and barely two thousand screens in multiplex. A country of over 100 billion population needs at least 30,000 single screen cinema houses and ten thousand multiplex screens. If this is achieved in next couple of years, the BOX OFFICE will soar to a thousand crores in the first week itself. Which means more remunerations to artistes and technicians resulting in swelling of income tax because now nobody takes cash in the industry as the stars are investing in various business interests. Increased income will inspire directors to improve technical and content quality to match international standard.
Cinema is the place where hundreds come every day, therefore a market develops in the premises. Today large number of cinema houses exist in big towns. Single screen cinema houses should be built in `B’ `C’ and `D’ tier towns. In such towns a 200 seater cinema with shops and food court is required.
I am aware of the fact that only state governments grant land and licence to Cinema houses but if a national policy is made, states are bound to help built cinema houses. Similarly licensing cinema is avenue of corruption. Therefore one window licensing is required.
Cinemas generate employment and create market places. The problems and potential of this industry can be sorted out only if Central Government creates cinema vision. Our foreign embassies must organise Indian film festivals in respective countries annually to increase film export potential. Presently big Indian film manages to earn about forty crores from overseas whereas it should earn much more. It has limitless potential.
To-day Indian cinema barely earns two percent of Hollywood, whereas we have great untapped potential and this can be achieved if you create a central policy and vision of cinema and create a cell if not an independent ministry.
2.) SERVICE TAX
The film industry has been long harping about the ill effects of service tax and how it should be waived off. We have submitted many representations in the past to no avail. You are the new regime, you will be glad to note that the Finance Ministry already convened a Pre Budget meeting where we put forward all our viewpoints. We would not like to tax you in this matter.
We are hopeful that Hon’ble Minister will look at our case positively and grant us the much needed relief in the next Budget.
3.) GOODS & SERVICE TAX (GST)
The relief under GST has been long anticipated. We are pleased to note that to make the GST effective, a bill has been presented in Parliament, which would come up for discussions in the next session. We are sure the bill will be passed thus giving adequate relief to the industry.
The implementation concurrently of GST by the Central and State Governments as Central GST and State GST thus replacing Service Tax by the Centre and VAT by the State will be huge boost to our industry.
4.) WAIVER OF 1% LEVY ON INR
It is mandatory on the part of each exhibitors in India to show approved films and to pay to the Films Division every week 1% of the total collection from the ticket sales. These are called Indian News reel hire charges (INR). We like to submit that with the proliferation of Electronic Entertainment Media and technological developments, the current events, historical facts, environment related matters are being beamed live on various satellite channels through cable networks, the exhibition of approved films in cinema theatres have lost its rationale. Formally all the exhibitors in India were obtaining the news reel films from Film Division by paying the charges. However, in terms of the Supreme Court order the exhibitors are free to procure approved news films from any source and to screen compulsory and pay the charges. After protracted parleys with Government of India officials regarding the waiver of the 1% levy, based on the discussions and concrete suggestions, Film Federation of India submitted a draft MOU to the previous Government. The highlight of the draft was that the levy of 1% being charged by the Films Division shall be waived off in its entirety. No such levy shall be charged for screening of such films by Films Division or any other statutory authority. Secondly, the approved films will be sourced from Films Division.
The exhibitors will be willing to exhibit the films provided the following conditions are met:
- The running time of the film will not exceed 3 minutes.
- The outstanding dues will have to be waived off in its entirety.
- The cost incurred (if any) during the supply of the film to the theatre will have to be borne by Films Division.
An urgent conclusion to this long running saga will be good for all concerned. We hope the new Government will be open to explore possible avenue to waive off the INR charges.
5.) FILMS IN CONCURRENT LIST
Hitherto part of the matters concerning the industry come under the central list and part under the state list. As a result many issues remain unresolved. We have been time and again representing to the Government to place the issues pertaining to the film industry under the concurrent list.
6.) SETTING UP OF EXPORT PROMOTION COUNCIL
Every industry of any significance needs an Export Promotion Council so that all concerned promotions can be carried out under one umbrella and as a unified voice.
Accordingly, about 7- 8 years back, a document was created in the lieu of an MOU which many sectors of the entertainment industry ratified and were the signatories to
The Export Promotion Council was ready to go. But somehow, things never materialized beyond this point and the Council never took off.
Indian film industry today is at the cusp of a revolution, some of our films are getting released in as many as 100 countries but the revenue generation remains pretty dismal. We need the Export Promotion Council now more than ever to create some muscle power. In spite of being the top film producing country in the world, our films are very rarely shown in important international film festivals. As it is well documented, a screening at a prestigious festival value adds immensely to the revenue potential of a film. An Export Promotion Council can help in this endeavour.
It should be kept in mind that India does not have a film commission either.
In such a backdrop, the Export Promotion Council needs to be set up if India is to find its rightful place in the world entertainment order.
7.) FILM HERITAGE FOUNDATION
Sir, India produced two thousand silent films in the first two decades and now only seven negatives have survived. Similarly we have lost cinema heritage. Today 100 classics are in poor condition. Shri Shivendra Singh Dungarpur is doing pioneering work of restoring decaying classic. Like Awara, Pyasa, Do Ankhen Barah Hath and several Bengali classics. Classics created–in South India also need to be restored. His film heritage foundation should be given support. Presently Shri Shivendra Singh has invited European experts in restoring and 53 young Indians are being trained to restore classics. Shivendra’s organization must be allotted land and monetary support to preserve Indian cinema heritage.
We are aware Sir that your schedule is incredibly busy. Nevertheless, we remain eternally hopeful that you spare a few moments and look into this. Your intervention can change the path of Indian films.
We would be too happy to meet you to present our predicaments personally. We will, thus, consider it a privilege if you could grant us an interview on any date suitable to you.