From single screen movie theaters to multiplexes, more than 1,000 cinema halls across Tamil Nadu have gone on strike from Monday, and movie-goers are very disappointed, even heartbroken. Theater owners of the state have called what seems to be an indefinite strike over the state government’s imposition of 30% entertainment tax above and beyond the 28% Goods And Services Tax (GST) on movie tickets.
Today, on the third day of “shutter down” for cinema halls across the state, the face of the Tamil film industry, Superstar Rajnikanth has broken his silence and has, in a tweet, requested the Tamil Nadu government to reconsider the imposition of the additional tax.
Keeping in mind the livelihood of Lakhs of people in the tamil film industry, I sincerely request the TN GOVT to seriously consider our pleaAdvertisement
— Rajinikanth (@superstarrajini) July 4, 2017
The Kodambakkam-based Kollywood, also known as the Tamil film industry, is second to the biggest film industry in the country, Mumbai-based Bollywood. As a result, many people’s livelihood is at stake as Kollywood faces this storm. In solidarity with the industry, tweets showing support have started to pour in.
Until the revision, I am willing to reduce 15% off my remuneration for songs and dialogues, if that would help the industry.
— Madhan Karky (@madhankarky) July 3, 2017
Actor-filmmaker Kamal Haasan has also spoken on the troubled times faced by the regional film industry. He has spoken about how Kollywood might be looking at its last days if the GST rates were to stay as high as they are now. The actor rightly points out that Tamil Nadu is the only state to levy additional entertainment tax.
Not pressurising. It’s a plea & SOS from regional cinema to our FM We fear it will collapse.We request the council to do all to save it.
— Kamal Haasan (@ikamalhaasan) June 5, 2017
India’s first ever tax reform was all about replacing numerous prevalent taxes at the state as well as center levels. But to have states accept the new GST, the Center allowed local bodies to levy their own taxes. Arun Jaitely’s promise made in the month of May this year that GST would absorb entertainment tax seems to be hollow for cinema enthusiasts in Tamil Nadu.
According to Abhirami Ramanathan, President of the Tamil Nadu Theatre Owners and Distributors Association, the net tax rate of 58% on movie tickets is the highest in the country. Movie theater owners don’t seem to be having any problems with accepting GST, it is the additional tax that they are on a strike against. He also showed concern about piracy booming in the state if the additional tax is not rolled back.
On the one hand, we have movie-goers who feel cheated, plus the livelihood of the many people dependent on an industry near its collapse and, on the other hand, we have the greed of a state government. Who shall emerge victorious from this stand-off?