Image: Danish Siddiqui / Reuters
Barely days after a delegation from the Indian film industry met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister (FM) Piyush Goyal announced a slew of benefits for the entertainment sector while presenting Budget 2019 on Friday. The biggest of them all was a single-window clearance for ease of shooting films to Indian filmmakers. So far, it was only available to foreigners. He also promised anti-camcording provisions in the Cinematograph Act to control the menace of piracy.
The treasury benches prompted ‘Uri’ in chorus while the FM explained how the industry was a major employment generator. Goyal then spoke about how he enjoyed watching the Vicky Kaushal-starrer based on the 2016 surgical strikes in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir and the ‘josh’ (energy/passion) it generated among the audience. Representatives from the ruling dispensation cheered and thumped their desks at the mention of the film.
The FM further announced a reduction of Goods & Services Tax (GST) on movie tickets: From 18 percent to 12 percent for those priced up to Rs 100 and from 28 percent to 18 percent for ones costing more than Rs 100.
The move comes at a time when a series of political films and biopics
are being made in the country. While The Accidental Prime Minister, based on Sanjaya Barua’s book on former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, and Thackeray released in January, a couple of movies have also been announced on Narendra Modi.
In January, prominent Bollywood personalities such as filmmakers Karan Johar and Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, and actors Ranbir Kapoor, Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt, Kaushal, Ayushmann Khurrana, Sidharth Malhotra, Varun Dhawan, Bhumi Pednekar and Rajkummar Rao among others met Modi in New Delhi to discuss issues concerning the entertainment sector.
The Indian film industry produces close to 1,500 films a year in multiple languages and is a major source of revenue.