The copyright issue has been something that has been creating a furore within the film industry for a while now, so much so that several members of the film fraternity had a high profile meeting with senior leaders of the Congress and the UPA Government in Delhi yesterday.
Among the political bigwigs who attended this meeting were Congress General Secretary - Shri Ahmed Patel, Hon'ble I&B Minister - Mrs Ambika Soni & Hon'ble HRD Minister- Shri Kapil Sibal. The meeting was held to discuss many of the long pending grievances of the Film Industry such as Copyright amendment bill, heavy and multiple tax burden on the film sector, statutory radio licensing and royalty issues etc.
The meeting seems to have ended on a positive note. The senior Congress/UPA leaders have appreciated the seriousness of the copyright amendment act if implemented in the current form and the various other concerns shared by the members of the film industry. The Congress/UPA leaders have assured the members of the film industry that Justice will be done and no arbitrary decisions will be taken by the government, which can jeopardise the industry. The Government is committed to the principles of justice rather than personalities.
The film industry and the UPA leaders have agreed to find a solution to these issues at the earliest and continue to have a dialogue on an on-going basis.
Meanwhile, The Film Federation of India (representing production, distribution and exhibition sectors and the representatives of the various film Industry bodies), who were initially supposed to declare an All India Bandh on 6th January 2010, have now decided to defer the bandh indefinitely. This Bandh was planned to protest against the anti-industry attitude of the government; however, after Tuesday's meeting with senior Congress / UPA leaders, things seemed to have arrived at a consensus. This decision was taken at a press conference held by the members of the film fraternity yesterday in Mumbai. Present at the press conference today in Mumbai were Mukesh Bhatt, Ramesh Sippy, T.P Agarwal (President of Film Federation of India), Dinesh Chaturvedi (Vice President of Film Federation of India) and Ashok Pandit.
Said Mukesh Bhatt, "The industry has been facing various issues, like copyright issue, heavy taxation among other things, which has brought the industry to a paralytic stage. However, yesterday we had a very important meeting with senior leaders of the Congress and the UPA Government, including Congress General Secretary - Ahmed Patel, I&B minister Ambika Soni and HRD Minister Kapil Sibal, we got a very positive response. In fact they greeted us with a very positive statement 'this government is committed to the principles of justice and not personalities.'"
Adds Mukesh Bhatt "We have also been instructed to engage with the authors and composers and look for a reasonable outcome, which is practical, without jeopardising our business. And the government has assured us that both the sides will be heard fairly, and only then will the law be implemented. Therefore we have decided that the bandh, which was to be enforced pan India, has now been postponed, as we have been delighted with positive response. The bandh was to protest against the behaviour of the government, towards the producers. However, in the light of this positive response, it has opened the door for a fair approach, so we have unanimously decided to postpone the bandh, the bandh is postponed till all our legitimate demands are met with. We are not here to fight, but our sustenance is threatened and therefore we want to have a positive word with the composers and find a fair solution."
Said Ramesh Sippy, "We were informed of the law, which would take away our rights. I'm sure if Javed Sa'ab was fighting for something, it must be for something unjust, but the Government escalated the matter without consulting with us, and therefore our voice remained unheard. Therefore, before yesterday's meeting we had a sentiment of there being no other way out. However, now we feel the government is open to taking in account our point of view, and we are very happy that they are seeking justice for both sides, and not just passing a one-sided law. We are hopeful of sitting down and resolving this issue."
When questioned whether they were open to discussion with Javed Akhtar, T.P Agarwal said, "We have never banned Javed Sa'ab, we had simply advised producers to not sign him till this matter is not resolved. But he is one of us, and has always been, so we will of course discuss the situation with him."
Well, the tide seems to be changing, with ban scheduled for 6th January cancelled, and with a resolve on the producers' part to find a solution suitable to both sides. The issue between the producers and composers is now poised at a crucial point.