Last night, the present Modi Government underwent a Cabinet reshuffle under which the former Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar resigned from his post and Anurag Thakur was appointed as the new Minister of Sports, Youth Affairs and The Minister of Information And Broadcasting. Thakur has earlier served as the Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs and had also been the BCCI president from May 2015 to February 2017.
We reached out to different film bodies for their opinion on this new development and this is how they reacted:
‘The entire industry has given suggestions in the Cinematography Act, and getting that noticed would be on our priority’
Indian Film & Television Director's Association (IFTDA) president Ashoke Pandit, starts by congratulating the newly appointed minister. “He has been a very dynamic politician in whatever portfolios he has had. He has been very efficient as state minister for finance and he has his own style of functioning too. He has also been very accessible to people, not that the earlier minister was not. But I am sure with his visionary style of working, being a young politician and having accessibility and friends in the industry, I am sure we will see a dynamic change within the ministry and we are all there to support him in his work. We hope that all issues relating to the needs of the industry at present times will be fulfilled,” he says.
Talking about their concerns that they would like to be addressed, Pandit shares, “What we were concerned about was the formation of the additional censor in the CBFC. The presentation made by the entire industry has given some suggestions in the Cinematography Act, and that would be on our priority. I am quite confident in Anurag as otherwise also whenever I have met him, he has been a very positive, upfront and dignified politician. It will take some time to settle down, but we are very positive about it.”
The theatre business has been suffering for over a year now. Ask Pandit if that would also be a point of discussion for them and he says, “That is a problem that has affected all the industries as Covid has killed almost all of them. Our industry has been suffering in multi-faceted areas and we have been working on it. But surely, the industry will stand by him in doing all the good work.”
‘I am sure we will be pleasantly surprised’
Cine And TV Artists Association’s (CINTAA) Senior Joint Secretary Amit Behl starts by saying, “We have no expectations and I am sure we will be pleasantly surprised as when Rajyavardhan Rathore was there, he made a lot of changes to encourage media and entertainment, so did Prakash Javadekar ji and I am sure Anurag Thakur will do the same because for the last five-six years, we have seen a lot of development in our industry.”
Amit insists that the question should be aimed more at the producers and broadcasters, since it affects them more. “We as actors just follow the law of land. Our only request is as soon as possible, they could give us the industry status, which will help the producers, broadcasters, technicians, actors and everybody. If someone asks our concern we will say it, but first let the concerns of the producers, broadcasters, technicians and workers be addressed. A lot of our CINTAA members are members of the parliament, so obviously they would try to influence Anurag ji to work for the benefit of actors,” he asserts.
‘We need industry status’
Indian Film and Television Producers Council (IFTPC) Chairman of the TV division, JD Majethia says they expect dynamic policies from Anurag Thakur. “What we expect is a young and dynamic man Anurag Thakur. We have been regularly following with the I&B Ministry and the government that we need industry status. In this particular phase, we have actually played the role of an essential service by keeping people at home, and no one knows what the future holds. New Covid variants are coming up every day, so the entertainment industry will have to play a huge role in keeping people entertained at home and that is an essential service as you don’t want people to go through depression. Industry status is very important as the taxes we pay are too high,” he avers.
JD goes on to add that Bollywood is one of the largest industries and the face of the country worldwide. “We expect some calls are taken in this direction, and some censor board policies also need to be changed. Some old acts like the Cinematography Act are still in practice and they should be altered. Also, due to some recent experiences, we need security for the Indian Film and TV industry,” he shares.
He goes on to point out the importance of infrastructure for the industry. “We also don’t have much infrastructure, like in the nice hill stations that we have like Manali and Kashmir. So, if we get permissions, power at economical cost there and infrastructure, that will assist in redeveloping this industry to take it to another level. Like during this last lockdown, a lot of shows had to relocate to other places and there was no infrastructure there with everyone having to shoot in resorts, and that is not economical,” he insists.
Competition from international content is also one of their concerns. “International content is available to the audience in India and to fight that, we have a lot of stories and to tell them in a way to compete with the international standards, we need infrastructural support form the government. We also hardly have a few training institutes for this field while internationally, there are good writing and directing courses. So, we need to introduce that at the education level and build film training institutes in almost every state,” he maintains.
‘We hope he looks after the workers, pay attention to the cinema act so that everyone can get justice’
Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) president BN Tiwari states, “Till now, no minister did anything for us but Anurag Thakur is a young and dynamic person, who has been connected to sports and economy, so I am expecting it would be good for the film industry and the workers. Maharashtra is not in such a good place and the workers are in a worse condition, political parties are taking control of everything. So, everything is in a state of distress. We congratulate him and hope he looks after the workers, pay attention to the cinema act so that everyone can get justice. We had given some suggestions for the act and that was raised in Vidhan Sabha. It only remained to be signed but no development happened on that, so we would like if Anurag Thakur pays attention to that and apply it as a law for us to work with,” he says.
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