Lack of single window clearance for movie production was one of the primary issues for the Indian film industry.
While presenting the Interim Budget 2019-20, Interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal on February 1 announced setting up of a single window clearance system for Indian filmmakers for shooting films.
During the Interim Budget presentation, Goyal said that the entertainment industry is a major employment generator. To promote the industry, single window clearance for ease of shooting films -- currently available only to foreigners -- will be made available to Indian filmmakers too, he added.
The move is expected to bring mainstream filmmakers back to India as they currently prefer foreign locations over domestic locations for hassle-free clearances.
Talking to Moneycontrol, Amit Sharma, MD, Miraj Cinemas, said: “When it comes to movie shooting in India there are n-number of licenses issued. It becomes a long process of filing those permissions and second problem is that when there are multiple departments then it is a question mark on ease of doing business.”
Lack of single window clearance for production of movies was a primary issue for the Indian film industry. Filmmakers would often face substantial difficulty in obtaining approvals and shooting permits.
Kamal Gianchandani, CEO, PVR Pictures Ltd said, "Currently, to shoot in India you need to get multiple permissions. Sometimes there is chaos and confusion about which is the agency to go and talk to.”
Gianchandani added that by turning the multiple approvals process into a single window clearance, "you bring about clarity hence less stress, less anxiety in the system. The creative people, the producers and directors can focus their energies on hassle free shooting and they can focus on the creative stuff."
He listed two other benefits of single window clearance. "It can also eliminate possible corruption filmmakers have to deal with due to multiple agencies and if there is no clarity on who is the nodal agency then that becomes chaotic and cumbersome which can lead to people trying to exploit the situation. With clarity on the nodal agency with single window clearance this makes the whole process more transparent and less corrupt," he said.
In addition, "it saves time, money and effort. People who were finding it convenient to shoot internationally and that India was not an opportunity not just in terms of fee that you collect for shooting but also an opportunity to showcase itself as a country. And there was an opportunity lost every time a producer shot internationally. Hopefully this will incentivise people to shoot more in India. And save them cost," he added.
For location-specific approvals, a filmmaker needs to get approvals from relevant authorities such as the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for shooting in sensitive locations like Jammu and Kashmir, Northeast or the border areas; concerned district magistrates and police authorities to shoot in cities, towns or village.
They also require approvals from the Ministry of Environment and Forest and the concerned state forest department to shoot in forest areas, the Archaeological survey of India to shoot at historical sites, the Ministry of Defence for defence areas, the concerned airport director for airports, the Railway Board and the state railway zone, and Ministry of Civil Aviation and Ministry of Defence for aerial photography.
Besides the national and regional-level clearances, filmmakers need to adhere to certain local laws of the state or city where shooting is to take place.
With a single window clearance mechanism, it is expected to help boost tourism in the country as more directors would opt for Indian locales for their movie projects.
Experts are of the opinion that right policies including single window clearance could lead to many foreign and local tourists taking notice of Indian destinations.
According to a recent report by EY and PHD Chamber of Commerce, opportunity for film-driven tourism in India could run into billions.
"Single window clearance will indirectly boost tourism in India. So, if producers have more incentives to shoot in India then India gets more captured in film hopefully it highlights the country in a better way to people outside," Gianchandani said.
However, he added that "in terms of film tourism, external producers coming in and shooting in India I guess that remains unchanged. There is cost arbitrage so if the process is smooth then maybe more overseas producers will come and shoot in India."Talking about Budget 2019, Gianchandani also said that "the big change really seems to be the mindset change because first the GST (Goods and Services Tax) reduction and now the single window clearance, also this talk of stricter anti-piracy rules means that there is a mindset change this whole soft power of film business is being looked at in a much more positive and proactive manner which I think is a big positive outcome from today’s announcement."