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Last Updated 01.04.2020 | 8:00 AM IST



Abolish Entertainment Tax

By Bollywood Hungama

All single screen theatres in the state of Maharashtra will shut down for one week -- from 25 March to 31 March -- to demand a reduction in entertainment tax levied by the state government. In my individualistic opinion, entertainment tax should be abolished completely, but what I don't understand is the stand taken by the single screen exhibitors. Why shut down when there are hardly any significant films hitting the marquee? Why not protest when the flow of biggies is unstoppable, say in April or May? That would pinch the government hard. There would be a public outcry, the state government would lose crores by way of tax and would be forced to react to the exhibitors' demands.

From what I gather, the government hasn't even responded to the exhibitors' demand of a shut down. "That's true," R.V. Vidhani, the President of Cinema Owners & Exhibitors Association of India, informs me, "They [the state government] haven't even given us an appointment to present our point of view, despite repeated letters and reminders."

The veteran Vidhani sahab, who is also the Vice President of Film Federation of India, adds that if the government doesn't pay heed to their demands, the Cinema Owners & Exhibitors Association of India will meet again and [might] extend the shutdown of single screens to April too. It's a wait and watch situation right now, though I personally wish that the government takes note of their two main demands [Entertainment Tax reduction/abolition and Change of User policy].

I often read tweets of people fondly remembering Manmohan Desai and Prakash Mehra's movies. Manji [as he was affectionately called] and Prakash-ji made wonderful entertainers in their prime. In fact, Manji's films like AA GALE LAG JAA, ROTI, PARVARISH, DHARAM-VEER, CHACHA BHATIJA, AMAR AKBAR ANTHONY, SUHAAG, NASEEB, COOLIE and MARD have tremendous recall value to this day.

Prakash-ji's films like SAMADHI, ZANJEER, HERA PHERI, MUQADDAR KA SIKANDER, LAAWARIS, NAMAK HALAAL and SHARAABI are unforgettable as well. But a tiny section of the industry detested their films then. Besides some film-makers who believed in art house cinema and disliked the masala movies made then, a few critics would also lambast MKD and PM's films only because they wanted to remain in the good books of those arty types. Also, they didn't want to be labeled 'traitors' for praising masala films.

Even today, a very tiny section of the industry wastes no time in pulling down masala films, but praise even sub-standard films made by the so-called pseudos. Even today, certain critics feel it's fashionable to run down masala films, else they would be considered 'black sheep' by these arty types who claim to be messiahs of 'meaningful cinema'. In fact, a number of film critics are struggling writers who are desperate to sell their scripts to film-makers. But when they don't find takers, they start cribbing and lambasting the system, hurling abuses on their blogs and Twitter accounts. Such desperados! The frustration shows in their writings and tweets. Angoor nahin mile to angoor khatte hain.

I've seen these disgusting types target the Chopras, Johars, Bachchans, the Khans [SRK and Salman especially], Roshans, Ekta Kapoor, Vashu Bhagnani, Rohit Shetty, Arbaaz Khan, Sajid Khan, Farah Khan, Shirish Kunder and also Akshay, Ranbir, Imran, Shahid, Kareena, Katrina, Priyanka, Aishwarya and almost anyone and everyone who's associated with masala films… and also a success story. Even a rank newcomer like Ranveer Singh isn't spared. Corporate houses like UTV and Reliance Pictures are abused as well. The language they use is repulsive, the abuses are revolting and the name-calling continues non-stop. It's time the industry takes these filthy people to task.

I've often noticed, when two creative people join hands to collaborate on a film project, the praises don't stop. The talk is saccharine sweet, so much so that the one hearing the conversation may develop diabetes listening to all those syrupy tales of co-operation, discipline and hard work. The producer feels that the director is the best person on Planet Earth. The director thinks that he's finally found the right visionary to back his dream project. But the opinions change when the film nears the completion mark. And once the film is ready and censored, the differences are out in the open.

Okay, why am I discussing the relationship between a producer and director? That's because the fantastic camaraderie that a leading film-maker shared with his director-friend has gone kaput. They detest the sight of each other these days. Sad indeed!

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