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Dark days are ahead for Bollywood and Tollywood what with a proposal by the Centre to impose goods and services tax (GST) on films that will cripple the industry. “This is a very serious issue. If Parliament clears it, no filmmaker can end up making money,” leading Bollywood producer Yash Chopra said even as other filmmakers nodded in agreement.

Chopra was speaking at the ‘Media and Entertainment Business Conclave-Frames 2010’ organised by Ficci in Hyderabad.

“The very future of the film industry appears to be bleak. The proposed amendments if made into law will have a crippling effect. Apex chambers of commerce like Ficci should take up the cause of the film industry,” Yash Chopra said.

Tollywood producer Allu Aravind, while agreeing with Chopra, also pointed out additional problems. ” Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI) has suddenly stopped giving loans to corporate entities for making films. For the last few years, IDBI had been funding film production, but has now stopped it. This is because of the reneging of loans by some. Why should the entire industry be punished for this,” he asked. He also spoke about how cumbersome the VAT was. He said VAT was to be paid even when the processed film was going out of the laboratory.

Media baron Ramoji Rao said that there was no doubt that the film industry was being given a ‘step-motherly treatment’ by the government. “The taxation system is punitive. Even the concessions that they give to some low budget films have riders,” Rao said. However, he said he was an ‘optimist’ and saw a bright future for the industry and exuded confidence that it could survive provided it adapted to circumstances. He proposed that there should be ‘smaller and smarter’ cinema theatres in every locality to make cinema more accessible to people. “What is all the more important is that films should have the right content,” he said.

Film producer D Suresh Babu spoke of taxation issues affecting the film industry.

The ‘young turks’ of the Telugu film industry, as they called themselves, said there was a bright future for the industry.

A panel comprising actors Sumanth, Allu Arjun, Vishnu Manchu, Laxmi Manchu and Tapasee said that while adoption of new technology would take the film industry places, what was more important was that actors and technicians should get trained before entering the film industry.

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