KAHINI CHAKRABORTY – Mumbai
India, holding a strong cinema background with over 1,000 films produced annually in several languages, witnessed the 100th anniversary of Indian cinema on April 21, 2012. But even though the country boasts of its cultural diversity and exquisite locations, getting shooting permissions from local and civic authorities has become a gruelling task for film makers. To address these grievances and find solutions to the same, the Film Federation of India (FFI), the apex trade body of Indian film industry, held its first edition of India International Film Tourism Conclave (IIFTC 2013) in Chennai, Hyderabad and Mumbai. The event was inaugurated by well known Bollywood director, producer and screenwriter Subhash Ghai along with T P Agarwal, producer and Amit Khanna, chairman, Reliance Big Entertainment.
Addressing the gathering, Khanna mentioned that with films holding immense potential to boost tourism of any state and country, the core vision of the conclave was to create a national platform allowing international and domestic tourism boards, film commissions and line producers to interact with the Indian film and television industry to promote their countries, locations and services catering to foreign shooting requirements. He added, “The only hindrance has been the absence of a single window clearance system in the country and getting the right facilitator is imperative. However, we are optimistic of soon having a film promotion and facilitation board to solve this problem.” At the conclave it was informed that the information and broadcasting ministry is formulating a policy to set up a film commission which would function as a single window clearance to help film producers to get the requisite permissions for shooting in India. The cabinet note for the same is in process presently. The event saw participation from countries such as Fiji, Cyprus, Oman, Egypt, Korea and Indian states such as Maharashtra, Gujarat and New Delhi, apart from various other line producers and entities related to film tourism.
The panel discussion on ‘Films in concurrent list – A prelude to one window clearance’ moderated by Uday Singh, managing director, Motion Picture Association, had members like Ravi Gupta, CEO, Mukta Arts; Hiren Gada, director, Shemaroo Entertainment and Kalpana Lajmi, film director. Expressing their views on how beneficial would a single window clearance for the film fraternity and the current challenges and solutions needed for the same, Gupta was of the firm opinion that deregulation is the need of the hour. But at the same time, “I don’t see state governments willing to give their powers. In our country, a mere script approval from the information and broadcasting ministry itself takes six months before the entire state government approval comes in. We should be looking for deregulation as this sector brings in employment, forex, and tourism boards promoting their destinations.” It is essential to train individuals to convince film producers and liaison with the governments to promote film permissions. “It is important to build relationships with the local bureaucracy as getting permission is a task,”he added. Agreeing to this, Gada opined that deregulation was the need of the hour. “About 30-50 per cent is paid on entertainment tax and still the film gets subjected to objectives of regulatory framework,” he rued. Giving a different picture to the conversation, Lajmi added that in the 90s films were based in ethnic backgrounds and she did not have to apply for any clearances. “But since 2000, the scenario has changed and even the local service providers are not trained to handle a film production unit,” she said. After deliberating on the difficulties in shooting films in India, Gupta concluded by stating that if there could be an export promotion council board for the film sector it would be beneficial for promoting Indian cinema internationally as there is so much potential that is waiting to be explored and exposed. “This could help establish our presence and also take up issues of movie piracy, tourism promotion, etc,” he added.