A SMALL LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS!
The ﬁlm industry has long been ignored by the powers that be but in a signiﬁcant win, the government recently announced that it was revising the GST slab on ﬁlm tickets from 28 per cent to 18 per cent on tickets priced below Rs 100. While the industry was hoping for a complete rollback to 18 per cent, the fact that the Centre has acknowledged and acted on their concerns is encouraging. The rollback happened after a delegation from the Film and Television Producers’ Guild, led by its president Siddharth Roy Kapur, met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley last week and made a strong case on the need to reconsider the GST slab. The Guild also met I&B Minister Venkaiah Naidu and Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis. The GST regulations are scheduled to roll out from July 1. But most of this rollback seems to be of no value to the exhibition and production sector because most cinema halls in urban metros and cities and mofussill towns have ticket prices ranging above Rs. 100 and in multiplexes even more then what is the use of this GST reduction on ticket prices less than Rs.100 because it may be effective in the interiors or small villages or towns where there are derelict theaters and the paying power of the public is very less and hence they may be beneﬁtted by this roll back. And a ten percent reduction is hardly signiﬁcant in the long run because the ticket prices will keep on increasing in multiplexes for big ﬁlms like the EID attraction Salman Khan’s Tubelight and the decontrol on ticket prices will prompt the exhibitors and distributors to hike the ticket prices ranging from Rs.500 to Rs. 1000 and will this be affordable to the common man and even the single screens which have revamped their interiors and made their theaters look spick and span and with good amenities for the paying public, they too expect to earn from the eagerly awaited Salman Khan starrer and we are pretty much sure that no theater in Mumbai or other towns is going to price their tickets less than Rs.100 and this might be the case for regional ﬁlms like Marathi ﬁlms and Gujarati ﬁlms which are tax-free and generally are priced less than Rs.100 and these ﬁlms will deﬁnitely beneﬁt by the authorities decision to reduce the GST from 28% to 18% but only one can wish that they had given the exhibition sector a long rope and cut down the GST by far a greater margin so that everybody could have beneﬁtted in the long run. Nothing’s lost yet. The industry leaders have shown a great solidarity in approaching the authorities and one hopes they continue their dialogue and appraise the authorities with the many problems plaguing the industry so that in future they will have a kinder eye to show towards the next bigger industry after Hollywood. The Entertainment Tax is one such tax that the authorities should consider in the future and for the future of Hindi cinema, there should be a rollback on Entertainment Tax as well. Of Course! This is wishful thinking! But we all live on hope, don’t we?