Mumbai, March 20 (IANS) The Bhojpuri filmmakers in Mumbai are disappointed that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has gone back on its word to exempt Bhojpuri movies from payment of Entertainment Tax (ET).
On the recommendations of its standing committee, BMC has now decided to give ET exemption only to Marathi and Gujarati movies released in Mumbai.
In January this year, at the suggestion of Congress corporator Rajhans Singh who hails from Uttar Pradesh, municipal commissioner Jairaj Pathak had approved a proposal that Bhojpuri and other regional movies released in Mumbai be given ET exemption.
But, last week, Pathak asked for his own proposal to be scuttled by the standing committee of the BMC, offering the alibi that more time was needed to study the financial implications of the move on the civic body.
A Marathi-speaking director of Bhojpuri movies who requested anonymity laughed at Pathak's alibi that the tax exemption to Bhojpuri films might affect the civic body's current financial position.
He said: 'I read somewhere that the BMC has a buffer budget of over Rs.150 billion. How much poorer would it have been if it exempted the Bhojpuri films from the Entertainment Tax? Only a few lakhs (hundred thousand)! But the goodwill that it would have earned from the 50 lakh (five million) North Indians living in Mumbai would have been of immeasurable worth.'
When the proposal to exempt all regional movies released in Mumbai from ET was put forward in January, it had the support not just of the Congress corporators of the BMC, but also of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Although the Congress last week accused the BMC commissioner of back-tracking from his earlier suggestion, the party, which is a minority in the civic body, apparently could not do much when the standing committee passed a proposal Wednesday to give ET exemption only to Marathi and Gujarati movies.
The civic body and Pathak have apparently capitulated to the pressure exerted by Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), which unleashed a reign of terror against North Indian migrants in the city.
Though Ravi Kishen and Manoj Tiwari, the two most popular stars of Bhojpuri movies, were vociferous in their protest against MNS for terrorising Hindi speaking people throughout Maharathtra last month, they have preferred to keep quiet over the raw deal the Bhojpuri film industry has received from Mumbai's civic body.