Movies

There is a need for uniform tax regime in the country: Siddharth Roy Kapur

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MUMBAI: A country, which is considered filmy, with the kind of movies produced and the impact it has on the people, still faces numerous challenges. And one of this is the lack of cinema screens.

In a panel discussion at the 2nd Media & Entertainment Law Forum 2014 conducted by Legal Era, Walt Disney India MD Siddharth Roy Kapur stressed on how even with a population of 1.2 billion, there are only 13 screens for every one million people. “In fact, 3 Idiots, the greatest hit and revenue generator so far reached out to only 3 per cent of the entire Indian population, in terms of screens. All the others saw it on TV,” informed Kapur.

M&E industry contributes 0.5 per cent of the overall GDP of the country, of which movies is a Rs 12,000 crore business. Theatrical release, satellite rights, international rights and digital screening are all different models of revenue streams for the industry currently.

“We have so far not represented ourselves in a way that we should have to the government. We need to work with the government so that they know how well we can contribute to the economy of the country. It is only then that they will understand our challenges,” added Kapur.

According to Kapur, infrastructure, piracy, regulation and creativity if galvanised in the right direction can take the movie industry forward.  “There is not much regulation on the piracy front as well,” he said.  

The country also needs to invest in talent to ensure creativity. “Apart from that, of course we need good movies. The industry has to focus on writing and paying more to the writers. We need to move out of the south Asian diaspora and cater to a wider audience world over,” he opined.

An interesting point that came out during the panel discussion was the fact that regional movies contribute to 40 per cent of the total revenue the industry generates. “Mostly it comes from the Tamil and Telugu movies,” informed Reliance Big Films CFO Shibasish Sarkar.

Addressing the growth of regional movies, Kapur said that though these are important markets their sensibilities are different. “So it is better to ally with local partners, in terms of directors or producers at least for a couple of initial movies and then get your hands dirty. We do one Tamil movie a year now,” he informed.

Talking on the investment in movies, Sarkar said that any investor today looks at risk return ration before investing in a project. “Unfortunately, we have not yet been able to create an environment such that the investors can be made to feel confident of their investments,” he added.

What’s more, even with popularity of Bollywood world over and 100 per cent FDI, none of that money comes to India. “There is no venture capital environment here,” said Cinema Capital Advisory managing director and founder Samir Gupta.

Investors, according to Gupta, look for incentivised markets and so the government should be working at giving more incentives, if not at the central level, but at the state level. “There should be a legal framework for states, which can help them grow,” he said.

India is a tough market for animation movies, feels Kapur. “Audiences are used to watching animated content on TV for free, and so it is very difficult to get them to buy a movie ticket worth Rs 300 for an animated movie.” Another reason why animation movies have not grown in the country, Kapur opines that it lies in the fact that Indian filmmakers are not good storytellers when it comes to animation.

The panel also felt that there is a need for a uniform tax situation in the country. “Overall Goods and Services Tax (GST) is definitely a positive,” said Kapur. According to the panelists, in a uniform GST regime, entertainment tax will get subsumed into it, and this will be a complete game changer.  

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