Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Tuesday (September 22) unveiled an ambitious plan to set up a “film city” and invited the film fraternity to come to the state.
The CM announced that 1,000 acres had been identified in Gautam Budh Nagar by the Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA), where a Dedicated Infotainment Zone would be set up with world-class civil, public and technological facilities, a statement from the CMO said.
Adityanath had announced on Friday (September 18) that the country’s “biggest and most beautiful film city” would be set up in Gautam Budh Nagar district. Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar had called on him on Sunday — and on Tuesday, several film personalities including Anupam Kher, Udit Narayan, and Satish Kaushik attended a meeting with Adityanath.
While there is excitement about the project, with government officials indicating that it is intended also to create employment opportunities in the state, this isn’t the first time that a government of UP has attempted to woo the film industry to set up base in the state. Those earlier attempts could not take off.
What did the government announce, and what follow-up steps were taken?
On September 18, while conducting a review meeting of Meerut Division, Chief Minister Adityanath directed officials to find land in the jurisdiction of NOIDA, Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority, or the Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority to set up a “film city”. The move attracted lot of attention and drew reactions from the film industry.
Officials were quick to act, and “Expression of Interest” was invited the same day for the appointment of an agency to evaluate options for setting up “Film City or Infotainment zone”. Interested agencies were told to submit their applications in the next 15 days.
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Has the government done anything so far to demonstrate commitment to the film industry?
Over the past few years, UP has offered financial incentives up to Rs 2 crore to attract filmmakers to the state. The scripts of these films are approved by the state government, and these movies have to fulfill certain criteria under the existing state film policy.
Under the policy, a film made in Awadhi, Braj, Bundeli or Bhojpuri, can get up to 50 per of the cost of the film as subsidy, and up to 25 per cent of the cost if it is made in Hindi, English or any other language.
This subsidy is subject to a maximum limit of Rs 1 crore if at least 50 per cent of the shooting has been done in the state, and Rs 2 crore if two-thirds of the film is shot in UP.
The policy also provides for additional incentives if the director shoots a second or third film as well in the state; in such cases, the subsidy ceiling can go up to Rs 2.50 crore provided two-thirds of the shooting days are in the state for the third of successive movie of the same director or producer.
If five main artistes in the film belong to Uttar Pradesh, an additional subsidy of Rs 25 lakh is given by the state towards wages; in case all artistes are from the state, the producer can be given up to Rs 50 lakh.
The policy also offers that if any producer after the shooting of the film carries out its processing in the state, then 50 per cent of the cost of the processing, up to a maximum of Rs 50 lakh, would be given as additional subsidy.
The policy further offers that if a film training institute is set up in any major city apart from Noida or Greater Noida, the state would provide 50 per cent, or up to Rs 50 lakh, of the cost as a subsidy.
‘Film Bandhu’ has given a grant of Rs 22.59 crore to 38 big and small Hindi and Bhojpuri films over the past three years, which shot at least half of the film in UP.
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Which are some of the films that have benefitted from this push to attract filmmakers?
Among the films that have received Rs 2 crore are Akshay Kumar’s Jolly LLB 2 and Toilet: Ek Prem Katha; while those that have been given over Rs 1 crore include Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana, Sonu ke Titu ki Sweety, Lupt, and Kaashi in Search of Ganga. The Bhojpuri film Saiyaan Superstar was given Rs 64 lakh, and Dabang Sarkar got Rs 61 lakh.
Like other states, UP also gives tax exemptions to films.
How did earlier attempts to establish a “film city” in UP go?
In 2015, two film cities were proposed in Uttar Pradesh, and agreements were signed in the presence of then Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, director-producer Boney Kapoor, and Bhojpuri actor (and now BJP MP from Gorakhpur) Ravi Kishan. One of these film cities was proposed to come up along the Lucknow-Agra Expressway, and the other in the Trans Ganga City project in Unnao.
The government had offered about 300 acres of land to each of these two proposed film cities. They were proposed to come up on Public-Private Partnership model, with a proposed investment of about Rs 700 crore. However, neither of the two projects saw the light of the day.
Sources in the government said the projects could not move forward largely because no agreement could be reached over the precise location of the land. Ravi Kishan had wanted land around Gorakhpur.
In fact, the practice of offering incentives to filmmakers is quite old — some government officers said it has been on from 1998, and that subsequent governments have continued the policy after making changes. The Akhilesh government increased the subsidy from Rs 1 crore to up to Rs 2 crore, and relaxed the earlier requirement that at least 70 per cent of the film needed to be shot in UP, to 50 per cent.
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