The strike by theatre owners and distributors of Tamil Nadu which had entered its fourth day on Wednesday has now been called off. According to Abirami Ramanthan, the president of Tamil Nadu Cinema Theatre Owners’ Federation, the theatres in the state will open from Friday.
He also added that the strike was called off after a committee of government officials and representatives of theatre association was formed to sort out the issue of tax. The theatre owners and distributors were protesting against the imposition of 30 per cent local body tax on movie tickets in addition to the 28 per cent GST. 18 per cent GST was decided on tickets priced below Rs. 100 and 28 per cent for those above Rs. 100.
Nearly 1,100 thetares in the state were shut down since July 3 to fight against the double taxation as this would put a burden on the purses of cinema goers and also encourage piracy. “It is simple: we cannot run a show under this double taxation system,” Ramanthan said. “If we go by the present system, we will end up losing money on every ticket. There are over 10 lakh people dependent on this industry and we need to survive.” The association had asked the government to look at the other states for example as they had removed the entertainment tax after GST came into force.
The protesters had held several rounds of talks with the government officials during their strike. Members of the Tamil Film Producers Council, the South Indian Artistes Association, along with the theatre owners and distributors, had met Chief Minister K Palaniswami on Monday to resolve the issue. However finding no resolution, they decided to continue the protest. The issue was also brought up by the opposition parties DMK and Congress in the ongoing Assembly session.
Many film stars had also extended their support to the Association in their fight. Film actor Rajinikant tweeted, “Keeping in mind the livelihood of lakhs of people in the Tamil film industry, I sincerely request the Tamil Nadu government to seriously consider our plea.” Kamal Hassan also agreed with the Tamil superstar. “Thanks Rajini avargalay for voicing your concern. Lets request first as gentlemen should. Then we shall see. @superstarrajini & TN Govt,” he tweeted.
With films lined up for release on Friday, the decision to call off the strike will definitely be welcomed by the film industry.