As Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is set to present India's national budget on 1 February, the Indian entertainment industry is yet again pinning its hope on Budget 2020 to get the designation it feels it deserves from Narendra Modi's government.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's growing bonhomie with Bollywood celebrities has ignited the hopes that Bollywood will receive much-awaited industry status, which will provide social and monetary security, facilitate taking out loans and lead to other forms of government support for the cinematic world.
The magnum opus films, involving the bigwigs of Bollywood with equally high budgets, take years to produce. Financing films is almost akin to casino gambling.
Given these limitations, industry status, it is argued, will make things more transparent and workers will feel more secure due to government funding, potentially leading to a surge in possibilities among independent producers and the streamlining of record-keeping.
Avenues for Development
According to Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri, a filmmaker and panellist oat Central Board of Film Certification, the stature will not only positively impact the content but also benefit hundreds of thousands of people who work behind the camera and die poor.
“Things like social security, provident fund, and gratuity will come with the status. Bollywood itself is about 500,000 people working on a regular basis. Most of them die poor due to a lack of facilities,” Agnihotri, the Director of the film Chocolate, staring Irfan Khan, told Sputnik.
He also agreed that this will facilitate borrowing, as banks shy away from giving loans to movie-makers due to the high risks involved.
“But there would be a ripple effect. The distribution will get streamlined, as there would be avenues for lots of different kinds of content. The monopoly of distribution will also change,” he added.
Treated as Barren
Filmmaker and President of the Indian Films and TV Directors Association Ashoke Pandit, however, said he is hopeful for a positive development despite the fact that India's world-class film industry is facing extreme neglect.
For Pandit, the industry has always been treated as “barren” by the government and has been discriminated against in comparison with industries like textile, aviation and others.
“There has to be serious thinking as far as our industry is concerned. None of the governments have seriously thought about the issue so far. The entertainment industry is surviving on its own. It is a battle we are fighting on our own. The way the other industries are taken care of by the government, the entertainment industry is not. There has to be a proper system in place, rebates, and other advantages for the people and facilities,” he said.
He pointed out that time and again, despite the neglect, Bollywood has joined hands with the government to campaign on social issues.
Referring to megastar Amitabh Bachchan joining the Indian government's polio eradication programme, Pandit said movie stars are neglected despite their prominent role in social issues.
“The entertainment is generating so much revenue yearly for the government. Prime Minister Modi is trying his best by meeting people in the industry, but people in the bureaucracy are not serious about it. We are only remembered at the time of elections. We’re not mere machines to caste votes.“
“When we as an industry can work towards eradicating polio through campaigns led by Amitabh Bacchan, then why are we neglected? We have played a prominent and important part, working on social issues,” he asserted.
He also added that the film industry, comprising of regional Gujarati, Assamese and Tamil films is surviving on its own and running at God’s mercy.