The Gujarat government has decided to give 100 per cent tax exemption to the film industry in the state. It has also announced a Re one rise in the service charge per cinema ticket to encourage theatre owners to screen Gujarati films.
The tax exemption was announced by Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi during Gujarat's formation day celebrations held at Bhavnagar.
However, despite all these measures, the local film industry is in a pathetic condition as only 14 Gujarati films released last year in the state.
Till 1988, the Gujarati film industry used to produce more than 40 films a year compared to 10-12 films now. To add to the woes, not all the films that are produced make it to the cinema halls.
Naresh Kanodia, Gujarati actor and a MLA from Patan recently said, "Lack of support from Gujaratis and the onslaught of hundreds of TV channels are responsible for the downfall of the Gujarati film industry. Also, some people make low-budget C category Gujarati films just to make profits. This damages the reputation and weans away the patrons."
Mallika Sarabhai, social activist, writer and actor, thinks that Gujaratis suffer from a complex about their own culture and language and this in turn has affected the prospects of the industry.
She said, "Gujaratis are embarrassed about speaking their own language and this has led to the collapse of the Gujarati film and television industry in the state."
The condition of the regional films in Gujarat is so pathetic that the Gujarat Film Development Corporation, which was set up to look after Gujarati films, had been closed down in 1998.
On the condition of anonymity, an official said, "There is hardly any work for GFDC as the Gujarati film, production and television sector is in shambles."However, it now remains to be seen whether the sops dished out by the state government will do any good to the Gujarati film industry, that is perhaps passing through its worst patch ever.