Tax protest leaves India movie theaters dark
January 12, 1997
Web posted at: 12:00 p.m. EST (1700 GMT)
From Correspondent Anita Pratap
NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- Moviegoers in the western Indian
state of Maharashtra are being locked out of the theaters.
All 1,300 movie halls in the state have been shut since
January 1. Theater owners and film distributors are on
strike, protesting the government's decision to increase the
entertainment tax on movie tickets.
It's a situation that isn't sitting well with film buffs.
"I hope the strike finishes quickly. We are all losing money.
We who work near the theaters, the government, the film
industry, everyone. And the people have no entertainment
left," said one movie lover.
The Indian film industry, the largest in the world, churns
out at least 1,000 films a year, catering to some 20 million
viewers daily. And movies are big business for the
government, as well. The state collects 3 million rupees, or
nearly $100,000 (U.S.), a day from the current entertainment
tax. The proposed hike would double the price of a ticket for
movie patrons, a rate exhibitors fear they cannot afford.
Even though the strike is costing exhibitors $200,000 a day,
theater owners say they will persist until the government
withdraws the tax increase.
"It is a struggle for our existence. The entire economy of
the theater industry was structured around that 50 percent
tax," said theater owner D'Souza. "If it goes up to 100
percent, most of us will be wiped out."
"Does it mean that every time someone gives the threat of a
strike we should surrender and agree to what they say? No,"
said Pramod Navalkar, the Maharashtra minister of culture.
Still, until a compromise is found, the door to entertainment
is closed to millions of moviegoers in this state.
Related sites: Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.
© 1997 Cable News Network, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.