Lucknow on Screen
Government Encourages Film-makers in the State
In the past 2-3 years, Uttar Pradesh has lured Bollywood as a favourite shooting destination. From the natural beauty to the historical impressions scattered all around, the state has offered apt and realistic colours to fill the canvas. Keeping this in mind, the Chief Minister, Mr. Akhilesh Yadav has announced to provide monetary incentives to the filmmakers who’d present Uttar Pradesh on the big screen. Producers and directors like Pankaj Tiwari, Boney Kapoor and Muzaffar Ali have received a cash incentive of Rs. 2 crore each for the very reason.
Since the announcement of cash incentive, more than 40 filming proposals from various producers and directors have arrived at the state government’s doorstep. Similarly, around 30 Bollywood projects have been completed with a predominant U.P. background.
According to the officials, Boney Kapoor has applied for the incentive for his film Tevar starring big names like Arjun Kapoor, Sonakshi Sinha and Manoj Bajpai. Muzaffar Ali has applied for the grant for his film Jaanisaar while Pawan Tiwari has made a claim for Dozakh: In Search of Heaven which has been much acclaimed and appreciated in many film festivals as well.
The extent of the shooting of the film done in the state decides the amount of incentive to be sanctioned. While Tevar and Jaanisaar spent 70% of their shooting time in Uttar Pradesh, Dozakh: In Search of Heaven boasts of being shot 100% here; all three being eligible for the Rs. 2 crore grant.
‘The script committee has passed these films for the incentive. Clearance from the finance committee will be received soon. Then it is likely that the films will be cleared by Film Bandhu for cash incentive,’ said Principal Secretary Navneet Sehgal, who is also the chairman of Film Bandhu.
A cash incentive of Rs 1 crore had been offered to Dedh Ishqiya and Bullet Raja in 2014, starring Madhuri Dixit and Saif Ali Khan respectively. An earlier norm required at least 75 percent of the movie to be shot in the state to make it eligible for the Rs 1 crore grant. Presently, the amount has been increased to Rs 2 crore while the required percentage has come down to 50.
“After the amount was increased, nearly 30 films have been shot in UP. We have been flooded with offers for shooting another 40 films in UP. Around 50 queries are received everyday regarding the policy,” Sehgal said, adding that the cheques will be presented in a function where the cast of the three films will be present.
Some well-known names in the film industry like Boney Kapoor, Anurag Kashyap, Abhinav Dev and Sudhir Mishra have shown a keen consideration towards the government grants. Many Bhojpuri filmmakers are also up-and-ready to add some U.P. flavour in their movies. Owing to the low production cost, the maximum amount to be granted as incentive to the Bhojpuri films is set at 50 percent of the total cost of the film.
Earlier, many films had been declared tax-free in Uttar Pradesh, which implies that the movies will be relieved of enter tax. These films include PK, Mardani, Mary Kom, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Bhootnath Returns, Dedh Ishqiya, Jai Ho and many more. The Akhilesh government also aimed at setting up of two film-cities and private lands have been allocated to promoters for the establishment of the same.
The relationships thus established with Bollywood are not confined to entertainment alone. Samajwadi Party’s election campaign song ‘Mann Se Hain Mulayam’ is a composition contributed by music composers from the film industry. ‘U.P.- The Land Of Taj’ is a promotional film made by hiring a number of Bollywood experts. In similar news, Muzaffar Ali was awarded Rs 25 lakh for conducting Nawab Wajid Ali Shah show in Lucknow. Samajwadi Party’s intent to exploit Bollywood was pretty evident in its earlier spell as well with Mulayam Singh Yadav at the helm. The Mulayam government had created UP Film Development Council and had made Jaya Bachchan its incharge.
Writer is a student, an aspiring painter & calligrapher
(Published in The Lucknow Observer, Volume 2 Issue 14, Dated 05 May 2015)