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Yogi’s sales pitch to movie moghuls sparks filmi turf war

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on December 02, 2020 Published on December 02, 2020

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath   -  THE HINDU

UP CM invites Bollywood to his State, Thackeray says it belongs to Mumbai

When Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath came calling on movie moghuls in Mumbai, the visit sparked a heated turf war over Bollywood. The UP CM’s sales pitch to Bollywood personalities, inviting them to the “country’s biggest and most beautiful film city” in Gautam Buddh Nagar, irked Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and the Shiv Sena no end.

Adityanath met a number of film personalities in Mumbai, including actor Akshay Kumar, directors Subhash Ghai and Boney Kapoor. He wants Bollywood stars and producers to invest and shoot in his State and offered them all facilities to shift focus from Mumbai to UP. Addressing a press conference in Mumbai, he said the film city in UP has the best connectivity to Lucknow, Vrindavan and Mathura.

“Members of the film fraternity have shown interest (in the proposal). This is a good sign. I thank all of them,” he added. “We have not come to take away something. We are creating a new thing, providing world class infrastructure.” “It is an open competition” and the State which provides the best infrastructure, social security and suitable atmosphere will attract film makers, he emphasised.

Sena senses a plot

An enraged Thackeray reacted to the move saying no one could take away anything from Mumbai and Maharashtra. Speaking to industrialists in an online meeting, Thackeray said that Maharashtra is not “jealous” of other States. “Let there be a race. If you want to move forward, do so. But if somebody is trying snatch away something from here, I will not allow that to happen,” he said.

Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut, speaking to reporters in Mumbai, said rather theatrically, “Mumbai is Mumbai. How can they take away Mumbai’s geography? UP CM Adityanath has met some Bollywood actors. But can anyone move film city from here?”

What’s at stake

The Sena’s possessive stance is not surprising as the Indian film industry, pegged at ₹191 billion and which grew by 10 per cent in 2019, is a major contributor to Mumbai’s economy. Domestic film revenues crossed ₹115 billion with gross box office collections for Hindi films at ₹49.5 billion. The major action around Hindi films happens in film capital Mumbai.

Bollywood critic Soumitra Pote said, “It is natural that the UP CM feels that the film industry should come to his State. There will be competition between UP and Maharashtra to attract the film industry and the industry is going to benefit out of this. But one must not forget that for 100 years Mumbai has nourished film culture and tackled all challenges including the underworld. Also, Maharashtra has given liberty to film-makers. Would UP provide that space?”

Maharashtra’s BJP leaders are cautious of the UP CM’s move as it would put them in a tight spot in the State. “Yogiji may be coming here to study the film city and facilities being provided to the industry, but nobody can take the film city and its glamour away from Mumbai,” Chandrakant Patil, State BJP president, told reporters in his hometown Kolhapur.

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Published on December 02, 2020
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