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No show: Cinema bandh total in Kerala

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SCREENED OUT: A view of a prominent cinema theatre in Kochi, which remained closed on Thursday in support of the bandh observed by the Kerala Film Chamber to protest the decision of AMMA to participate in a stage programme on March 7. - K.K. Mustafah

Kochi , Feb. 12

THE film industry came to a standstill in the State on Thursday with production houses, distribution offices and theatres remaining closed in response to the one-day bandh called by the Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce.

The bandh is in protest against the decision of the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA) to participate in the award night programme of a private television channel on March 7 in violation of an agreement reached with the chamber, and the State Government's alleged apathy to the chamber's demands, including reduction in power tariff, effective legislation to curb video piracy and tax holiday to salvage the crisis-ridden industry.

A cinema convention held this morning by the chamber here reiterated its decision to stop all production work from March 8 if the film artistes went ahead with their plans to cooperate with the star night programme. Inaugurating the convention, Mr Navodaya Appachan said that the Malayalam film industry should not be allowed to wither away. He said the present crisis, which was threatening to wipe out the film industry, was perpetrated by the unprincipled behaviour of film stars.

Organised jointly by the Kerala Film Producers Association, Kerala Film Distributors Association, Kerala Cine Exhibitors Federation and Kerala Film Exhibitors Association, the convention took a strong stand against the film artistes, attacking the leadership of their organisation and AMMA.

Most of the speakers stressed the importance of abiding by the agreement that had been drawn up between the Film Chamber, AMMA and the Malayalam Cine Technicians Association (MACTA) in December 2002.

The convention also adopted a memorandum to be submitted to the Chief Minister charting out 11 major demands of the film industry, including conferring the status of industry on film production in the State.

Other demands include exemption from entertainment tax for the first three weeks of new releases, abolition of show taxes and permission for shooting Malayalam films in government buildings and premises without rent. In order to curb video piracy, the memorandum also suggested imposition of a licence fee of Rs 10,000 on video shops.

Speakers at the convention called upon the MACTA to realise the gravity of the situation and act accordingly. They warned that the industry would not accept film artistes who refused to abide by the provisions of the agreement.

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