The Hindi film industry is going through tough times, reeling under the impact of fewer hits and big-budget films failing. Amidst this, the Tamil Nadu government has slapped local body tax on the Hindi films. As per the new notification, non-Tamil films need to pay 20 per cent local body tax from this week. The film industry is unwilling to accept this burden, and plans to make a representation to the TN government. The concern is that other states will follow suit, further damaging the industry that has had a terrible year at the BO. Distributor Ramesh Sippy says, “Today, TN has levied this tax and if we don’t object, other states like Rajasthan, Bengal and Andhra Pradesh will do the same. We don’t need to look at the value but as a principle, we cannot allow this to happen to us.’’
High tax rate
Producer Ramesh Taurani says, “What has happened is unfair to us and we’ll be making a representation to the TN government soon.’’ Hindi film industry is already paying an entertainment tax of 48 per cent and an additional 28 per cent of GST. Kulmeet Makkar, CEO, Indian Film and Television Producers Guild says, “The additional tax would mean that audiences in Chennai will now have to pay 53.6 per cent as an effective gross tax on tickets for non-Tamil films. How can an industry survive with tax at this rate? Unless the state government wants to ensure that either the TN film industry is forced to shut down or the attempt is to make sure the audience in Chennai is deprived of films in other languages.’’ Apoorva Mehta, CEO, Dharma Production, adds, “I think this is not correct because the idea of GST was that it would be the one and only tax that’ll prevail. The film industry is already going through pressures in terms of the number of films that are doing well, this is only going to burden the whole business of films and everyone involved. This is something that needs to be avoided completely.”
A meeting soon
President of the South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce, L Suresh, said that Tamil films have to pay 10 per cent local body tax and they’re upset with the government, too. He said, “We are convening a meeting on Wednesday to request the government to withdraw this notification.’’
Will hamper footfalls
While the film industry plans to make a representation, some film trade people say that TN is not a big territory and one should not bother as it’s only five per cent business, and films with big star cast run in cinemas in that state. Unless they’re dubbed, the business is not big. TP Agarwal says, “South Indian states had a cap on ticket pricing and it was affordable to everyone, but after additional taxation, the rates will go up and affect footfalls. As an industry, we’ll come together and fight against this. If we don’t resist, other states will also do the same. As it is, films are not doing well, and now, the local body taxation.”
Films that will suffer
“The Hindi industry must take a cue from this and put ideas together for its own benefit and protection. We’ve seen that governments do little to protect or promote us; it’s time we looked after ourselves and made sure governments did too,” stresses Anubhav Sinha. Films up for release in the coming months — Golmaal Again, Secret Superstar, Tiger Zinda Hai and Padmavati — will be affected.
Shailendra Singh: United we stand, divided we fall. This move makes this even truer. Why use entertainment as a political agenda? Sad new low in political strategy.
Nishikant Kamat: It is unfortunate... art should be above languages and provinces. It might instigate other states to emulate.
Sheetal Talwar: It’s protectionism at its best. Whereas Tamil cinema has its strength in the quality and style of storytelling, there is no reason that English, Hindi and Telugu cinema should not be given equal opportunity in a state where cinema and cinema viewing is a religion.