State budget | Govt turned a blind eye to industry's needs, slams film fraternity

G Suresh Kumar, Saji Nanthiyattu
Suresh Kumar was also skeptical about the practicality of the state government operating an OTT platform. File photos

The film industry, regaining its bearings after the Covid-induced disruptions, was left unhappy after Kerala Finance Minister overlooked the industry's demands completely. Moreover, many industry players believe that the additional cess on fuel will only add to the producers' burden.

President of Kerala Film Chamber and producer G Suresh Kumar slammed the state government for overlooking the film industry in this year's budget. According to the 'Vaashi' producer, the additional cess on petrol and diesel would break back of producers.

“It is disappointing that the government decided to ignore all our demands, despite the frequent memorandums. Also, the social security cess on petrol and diesel will prove to be a huge burden on the film industry. The production cost of films will spiral skyward, due to the additional travel expenses. We will have to shell out an extra Rs 25 lakh for transportation alone for a 60-day film shoot. And I have not even included the conveyance of the dubbing artists. The same goes for theatre owners who will have to shell out more, now that the government has decided to increase the electricity charges,” he added.

No government has done anything noticeable to help the film industry, he said. “We pay a heavy sum in the name of entertainment tax. What do we get in return?” he said.

Suresh Kumar was also skeptical about the practicality of the state government operating an OTT platform. The Finance minister has allotted a total of Rs 17 crore for the renovation of Kerala State Film Development Corporation (KSFDC)-owned theatres, setting up of an OTT platform and filmmaking.

“Several private players had tried to start OTT platforms and failed. I don't understand how the government is planning to run such a platform, with such limited resources,” he added.

Saji Nanthiyattu, a producer and Kerala Film Chamber secretary, also accused the government of turning a blind eye to the needs of the film industry. “We have been demanding the removal of the entertainment tax on movie tickets along with GST. This was a completely blind budget. The government is not even willing to listen to us. Despite the Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce being the apex body for movies in Kerala, the government has never sought our suggestions before any budget,” he said.

He alleged that issues like red tapeism within the film industry need to be addressed. “Can you imagine how difficult is it to get permission for a shoot in Kerala? The government should learn from the other film industries in the South as the governments there are always supportive. In Kerala, the government is only interested in what we can give them. We get nothing in return.” he said.

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