Bollywood to Shut Down on Feb 23

Recently, a story on the Times of India website grasped my eyes. The central government has proposed a service tax to increase costs on film-making; which resulting in a nationwide protest by the industry shutting down and how long the protest will go on is undetermined. Read the full story below:

The Film Federation of India (FFI) has proposed a nationwide shut down of the film industry on February 23rd, 2012, to protest against the levy of a service tax, which would escalate the filmmaking cost. Whether the strike will be for only a day or continue indefinitely is still unknown.

An industry insider informed Mumbai Mirror, “While the cinema industry would definitely suffer due to the strike, most members of the fraternity have decided to support it. The imposition of service tax will cripple the filmmaking process. The Central Government has proposed a service tax of nearly 10.3 per cent. This is not a small percentage. The budget of many films would be hit rather badly.”

Now, it remains to be seen whether the Film Producer‘s Guild, the association of top line filmmakers in India, which is not a part of the FFI, offers support and joins the strike proposed by FFI.

According to filmmaker Ratan Jain, a strike is possibly not the right way to oppose Central Government’s proposal. He said, “I have received a letter in this regard. A strike is not the right answer to our woes in this regard. The strike would only make us lose money. A proper representation by the film industry which can address the Finance Ministry would be the right way to solve this.”

According to industry insiders, Madhur Bhandarkar would be adversely affected by the impending strike. The shoot of his ambitious film Heroine, starring Kareena Kapoor, produced by UTV Motion Pictures and Bhandarkar Entertainment, would have to be stalled on February 23. Also, Bhandarkar’s budget might increase if the service tax proposal is passed. “The budget of Heroine was finalised about seven months back. I certainly don’t approve of this,” said a rather displeased Bhandarkar.

According to a letter written by the convener of FFI’s Service Tax Committee Ravi Kottarakara Rao, the film industry is subjected to a lot of taxation burden and the imposition of an additional service tax will only add to it.

Mahesh Bhatt, too expressing his displeasure and supporting the strike, said, “The government has been apathetic to the film industry. Add to this the service tax, which is certainly not welcome. We need to shut shop so that the government sits up and takes notice of this.”


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