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Mukesh Bhatt on Budget 2017: Film industry is vanishing before our eyes

Filmmaker Kunal Kohli too expressed his displeasure at the budget, which was presented on 1 February.

Keyur Seta

Finance minister Arun Jaitley presented the much-awaited Union Budget for 2017-2018 yesterday (1 February). As expected, it has drawn diverse reactions from the people of the country. The film industry has always felt disappointed with the budget and this year is no different.

Veteran film producer Mukesh Bhatt has come down heavily on the finance ministry as he believes it hasn't provided any aid to the film industry. He is specially unhappy with the non-inclusion of the film piracy issue. Talking to a daily, he said, “The finance minister did not even mention the film industry in his budget. They feel like we do not exist. They didn't even touch upon piracy which is impacting us in such a big way and also in turn affecting the government's revenue. We are saddened.” 

Bhatt was also expecting tax incentives to new theatres opening in India. “The government has not even considered providing tax incentives for those opening theatres in the country. In China, there are 16 theatres opening every month, but here, they are shutting down,” he added. 

The budget does give five percent decrease in taxes for films with a turnover of over Rs50 crore. But Bhatt feels this serves no purpose. “What is the point of giving a 5% incentive? The small budget film industry doesn't have a chance to reach that mark because of the rampant piracy,” he said. 

Filmmaker Kunal Kohli, too, has been vocal about his displeasure at the budget. He is also not happy with the members from the film industry who are a part of the government. “I feel members of the film fraternity who are in the government should be representing us and they need to put our point across to the government for them to look at. The film industry is in the limelight and is a great source of providing revenue and generating jobs,” he said. 

He also pointed out the varied natured of entertainment tax in India. “The entertainment tax is not uniform in the country and varies from state to state. It needs to be uniform and should be lowered.” He added, “Another concern is that the government does not offer subsidies to filmmakers to shoot in the country or state, much like how foreign countries do. The state of Uttar Pradesh offers subsidies, but it is not the same for the remaining states.”