BOLLYWOOD GIVES BUT GETS NOT 

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By FROM OUR BUREAU
  • Published 28.02.02
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Feb. 28 :    Feb. 28:  Bollywood supplied the humour, but the film industry is feeling left out after Yashwant Sinha's budget speech. The industry was looking forward to the finance minister - who has been peppering his text with "filmisms" - to put it on a par with infotech and telecom. But that was not to be. "It was a disappointment. We were expecting a lot of incentives on the technology front. We wanted some kind of parity with the IT sector as so much software is film-driven," said Bobby Bedi, Bandit Queen's producer. Sinha has made two proposals regarding the entertainment industry: tax relief for multiplexes in rural areas and relaxation of import duties on uplinking equipment. But industry people, who are for corporatisation, are disillusioned as Ficci had submitted a number of proposals to the Centre for relaxing import duties on all equipment. "The possibility of multiplexes in rural areas is remote. They may not happen even in 15 years. And uplinking facility is not directly related to the film industry, though it should benefit television," Bedi said. In his speech, Sinha said film exports have been roughly doubling every year over the past three years - it could cross Rs 1,000 crore in 2001-02 - and it was time to bring in a fiscal regime to ensure more khushi and take away the remaining gham from the entertainment industry. "Filhaal, I shall have more to say on this later." Bedi said it was a "great pat on the back" that the entertainment sector found its way into the budget speech. "This is the first time the industry has been seriously mentioned in a budget speech. But Mr Sinha mentioned us, then just forgot us." Trade analyst Komal Nahata also said Bollywood was disappointed. "After giving us industry status and there being so much talk on corporatisation, the budget was a royal snub." But not all are pessimistic. Senthil Kumar of Real Images Media Technology, Chennai, said the budget was welcome for its two proposals. Even Bedi hoped things might look up after the initial disappointment. "I haven't read the fine print," he said, echoing CII chief and RPG enterprises vice-chairman Sanjiv Goenka. "There might be something there when I go through it tomorrow." Sinha also angered a large section of the cable television industry by deciding to levy a 5 per cent service tax that operators would possibly pass on to consumers. "I think Yashwant Sinha should resign on this count alone. He is talking of sops to multiplex-wallahs who provide entertainment for the rich at the cost of the cable operators who provide mass entertainment," said Roop Sharma of the Cable Operators Federation of India.