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TV production temporarily impacted by cursed Rs 500-1000 notes

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MUMBAI: In what may be called a Herculean step, PM Narendra Modi banned Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes as of midnight intervening 8 and 9 November. His live television broadcast came as a surprise to millions of unassuming Indians and the world at large, to say the least.

Once understanding of the gravity of his announcement hit, throngs rushed to the ATMs, super markets, and chemist shops in a bid to rid themselves of the cursed notes which were to transform into waste paper overnight. In fact, retail shopping giant Big Bazaar, luxe watch chain Ethos, among many others seized this opportunity and allowed shoppers in till midnight, rightly expecting a rush. Petrol stations saw long queues even as late as the night of 9 November as desperate Indians tried to shed their 500 and 1000 notes. Foreign tourists despaired about the dud notes they had in their possession, as they neither hold bank account or post office accounts; the only currency they had was useless to them.

By demonetizing Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, Modi has taken a bold stance to curb the raging black money menace and counterfeit currency that has been gnawing at the country’s economy for decades. The speed at which everything had transpired was astonishing, and many netizens lauded the move on social media.

While this historic move is expected to contribute greatly towards nation-building, the transition phase will not be smooth. With banks shut for another day, ATMs dysfunctional temporarily until new legit denominations are restored in the banking system, life is proving tough for the public, to put it mildly. Different sectors have braced up for the varied impact this decision will bring, including the Indian television production industry.

“For production houses like us, there are certain requirements for action props -- flowers, food items, etc, which we usually buy in cash. Moreover, everyone's travel and other conveyance compensation are also paid in cash. Not to mention the daily labour and daily-wage workers that a shoot employs… so yes, this ban has definitely created an a problem, especially with the banks shut,” explains Sol Production’s Fazila Allana.

“Our ongoing shooting in Delhi for the show 'Small Money Big Makeover' which airs on FYI is currently stuck. It requires us to go out and buy stuff from the local market, and with today’s cash crunch situation, that is difficult,” she adds.

Allana isn't hindered by that, however, as she strongly believes that it is only temporary. “In the long term, I believe it is good for the industry. “A lot of these union workers often used to insist on cash payments, but now this sector can be regulated more effectively.”

Asked if any of the long-running daily shows would be affected by this temporary turmoil, Allana reassured that it was highly unlikely. “Mega serials, as they are often called, will be the least affected as their shoots and contracts with artistes etc mostly operate on a monthly basis. They might be slightly inconvenienced by the sudden prop requirements, but that is all.”

Allana, however, expressed concern over the lack of clarity on the upper limits of withdrawal for companies and the corporate, as it will be next to impossible to function if the cap for company usage is also Rs 2000 per day.

BBC Worldwide India SVP & GM Myleeta Aga has welcomed the Prime Minister’s bold move calling it " good to happen" to our industry.

“There will be inconvenience, but we should all manage the inconvenience. It won’t stop our work. We mostly function with partners with whom we have long-term associations. They too understand the current situation, and are cooperating accordingly. We can use credit notes and the right available denominations for the next few days. As long as they are providing a legit service and are being paid in a legit way, there is nothing to worry about,” she adds.

“The industry simply needs to be mindful while making cash payments in these two to three days,” says the optimistic CEO of The Contiloe Entertainment, Abhimanyu Singh.

Asked if the TV industry will be majorly affected by this crackdown on black money hoarders, Singh says, “I don't think the TV industry has something to worry about, most of our accounts are clean and every transaction is accounted for.”

“In the short run, businesses will have to compromise with the change but I have faith the government has thought this out, and will effectively take action to normalise the situation. I don't believe the prime minister would want businesses to shut down,” Singh added.

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