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Malayalam film industry begins indefinite strike

Our Bureau

The strike was total all over the State. Not even one of the 1,200-odd theatres functioned.

Kochi , June 25

THE Malayalam film industry began an indefinite strike on Friday, closing down theatres across the State and halting all production, to press for a cut in the entertainment tax levied by the State.

The industry has been demanding that the entertainment tax be reduced to 20 per cent from the current 48 per cent, which is the highest among Southern States.

"The strike was total all over the State. Not even one of the 1,200-odd theatres functioned," said Mr Siyad Kokker, President of the Kerala Film Chamber.

He added that there was no move yet from the State Government to resolve the crisis.

The film industry's indefinite strike is the first in 16 years. In 1988, the industry was on strike for a week before the then Government acceded to some of its demands.

Filmmakers and exhibitors want the Government to check the rampant video piracy and provide theatres power at a lower rate, besides bestowing industry status for films.

According to the Film Chamber, the film industry annually pays over Rs 50 crore as entertainment tax to the State exchequer. "Many of the local bodies depend on theatres in their area for their revenue and if the strike continues, it will affect them," a Chamber official said.

Out of a Rs 20 ticket, Rs 6.18 goes as tax to the Government while the distributor, producer and the theatre get to share only the remaining Rs 12.82, the Chamber said.

Production in the Malayalam film industry resumed only about two weeks back after the film producers and actors agreed to bury the hatchet after a long-drawn wrangle over a number of issues.

The industry, once a major producer of critically acclaimed films as well as box office hits, has been saddled in recent times with a number of flops.

The number of people going to the movies has dwindled considerably over the years due to easy availability of pirated videos and alleged bad condition of theatres.

More Stories on : Cinema | Trade & Labour Unions | Kerala

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