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TN Govt. slashes shooting rates

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Thursday, June 29, 2006
Chennai (UNI): Thanks to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi's announcement reducing rent for shooting movies in sought-after locales owned by the Government, the mood in Kollywood is buoyant. Tamil Film Industry sources told UNI that the slash in rates for shooting films and TV serials had come as a big boost to the industry, which felt that adequate infrastructure and more facilities had to be put in place by the Government. The industry also wanted total refurbishment of the once-famed MGR Film City to make it on par with the state-of-the-art Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad. The rates were hiked in Tamil Nadu a couple of years ago forcing the directors and producers to shift to Pondicherry known for its quaint French architecture.

Important locales in Tamil Nadu include Ooty, Kodaikanal, Pollachi, Top Slip, Valparai, Mudumalai, Courtallam, Mahabalipuram, and bigger Temples in Kancheepuram. In the City ECR, Rajaji Hall, Marina and Elliots beach were the most preferred locations. Mr Karunanidhi, whose nearly six-decade involvement with film world was well known, announced considerable reduction in per day's rent for shooting to Rs 1,000 from a whopping Rs one lakh The previous AIADMK regime had increased the rent to Rs one lakh per day in 2003. It was later brought down to Rs 25,000 in 2004. Mr Karunanidhi said rates for shooting TV serials would be half of what was applicable for shooting a filim.

While the film industry welcomed the move, the producers and directors were equally unanimous in stating that the government should be more liberal in according permission for shooting in vantage points like arterials roads and railway stations. It also stressed the need to refurbish the now-defunct MGR film city to attract film makers from other states. Leading the bandwagon, Kamal Haasan called on Mr Karunanidhi to thank him.

Hailing the government's decision, eminent producer-director Keyar told UNI that when the rates were hiked in 2003, the budget of every film rose by minimum Rs 20 to Rs 40 lakh. ''The hike had a cascading effect as it resulted in proportionate increase in related areas also. Even the studios and private houses had increased the rent for shooting,'' he added. He urged the government to introduce a Single Window System (SWS) to provide permission for shooting in locales on the lines of Karnataka. ''Hitherto, we have to approach each and every department for permission. If we want to shoot a film in Mudumalai or Ooty, the permission of the forest department had to be sought. Under the SWS we can get permission for all locales in the State at one go,'' Mr Keyar added.

The veteran producer-director said the government's announcement slashing the rent had come as a shot in the arm for producers. ''It's an uncertain business and producers suffer the most. Such concessions will benefit the small-time producers to carry on their business here itself', he added. Mr Keyar said renovation of the MGR film city would, to some extent, prevent producers from going to other states. ''We need facilities. We have only MGR Film city in Chennai. It has to be renovated and revived to attract the producers even from other states,'' he added.

Echoing similar sentiments, popular Director Seeman said, ''When the rates were increased 10-fold earlier, we were forced to invest in other states like Pondicherry, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, and utilise the services of the local people, leading to additional costs''. ''The reduction in rent for shooting will give a lot of benefits as it will bring down production costs significantly, and majority of the cost goes towards location charges'', he added.

Concessions were welcome, but there is an urgent need to give a facelift to the existing facilities so that Tamil filmmakers stay back in the state itself. The Tamil Film Industry is pinning hopes on the government and eagerly expecting some good announcements in the coming budget session for the film fraternity.

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