As President of the Film and Television Producers Guild of India, Siddharth Roy Kapur envisions the film and television industry to become the strongest cultural ambassador of India to the world. And he hopes for government support in the endeavour.
“My vision is for the film and television industry to achieve its full potential as the predominant cultural ambassador of the country to the world. If we can work together with the government to provide incentives and reduce road blocks to this sector, it has the potential to become a huge asset in our quest to make this century ‘the Indian century’,” Kapur told IANS over email.
“I do believe that with more sustained dialogue and engagement with the government, this can become a reality. If in my tenure as President of the Guild, I can make some significant strides towards achieving this, that would be very satisfying,” he added.
Last month, the guild officials spoke of rallying for a lower GST rate of five per cent to make the film industry more lucrative in terms of investment in infrastructure and technology.
Kapur, who took over as the Guild’s President from producer Mukesh Bhatt, feels government support will go a long way in helping the entertainment industry.
“It is essential for the government to support the film sector across a multitude of areas, as it represents the soft power of the country, with immense potential to sell the India story around the world,” he said. “We have a prolific local industry, despite which we are one of the most under-screened markets in the world. Just as China has done, it is crucial for our government to look into providing incentives to the exhibition sector, which will help it open screens in markets that are at present under-served,” he added.
That, of course, is the need of the hour, as figures tell.
According to the KPMG-Ficci Indian Media and Entertainment Industry Report 2016, the screen penetration at India stands at six per million versus 23 per million in China and 126 per million in the US.
The report says there is a need to have at least 20,000 screens in order to do justice to all the films that are being produced in the country.
Besides this, Kapur feels the government could have focused on the film sector in the Union Budget this year.
“The budget has not detailed any clear-cut plans for the growth and development of the film sector, which was much awaited and long overdue. The film industry is relieved that service tax has not been increased for the interim period because of the introduction of GST in the coming financial year.”
“We are hoping for the film sector to be taxed fairly under GST,” said the former Managing Director of the Walt Disney Company India, and added that it is a good step that the government is looking into tighter cyber security.
“Security and protection of intellectual property and stringent laws on piracy are imperative. The exchequer and the industry are losing out on revenues because of rampant digital and physical piracy,” said Kapur, who is married to actress Vidya Balan.