While the budget that has been presented by the Indian finance minister is being brandied as a budget that is for the 'Aam Admi', aka the common man, the staple diet of the Aam aadmi the films have not found any mention whatsoever in the budget. There was lots of anticipation from this budget of the government that it may give a new direction to the Hindi film industry, but it has not fructified. It has become a regular feature for the film industry as a matter of fact, inspite of the fact there is a sizeable presence of the film stars in the current Lok Sabha or they have been used strategically during the election campaigns by the political leaders. Hit songs have been used as reference to build up the aura, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE's Jai Ho being the prime example, but after the success it seems the film industry has been left to fend for itself.
This repetitive pattern begs some question. For the common man cinema still forms the staple entertainment and if the government could have brought about some policy initiatives for setting new cinema halls or providing incentive for refurbishing the creeping facades all over the country side it would have gone a long way in serving the cause of the aam aadmi. After all, better infrastructure and associated physical paraphernalia means better footfalls in the cinema halls and better tax collection for the government as well.
When we talk of developing the backward areas of the country, we tend to forget focus on providing entertainment as well. Entertainment in itself is a distinct barometer for development as it provides window to the growth of what is happening in neighboring states and in countries, which otherwise can be viewed only through pirated video copies that do not serve the purpose. Tax holidays also need to be provided to Hindi film makers to encourage them to shoot in the less developed areas that may be studded with beautiful spots.
One redeeming feature of budget has been the abolition of fringe benefit tax, but it is going to favour the individual stars as they would not have to pay taxes for their advertisement campaigns. So more endorsements may be on offer, but there needs to be some sense about recognizing the contribution that film industry makes to the country, and may be it could come in the form of supplementary proposals of the budget. There always is a hope.