May 29, 2020
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Vinod Khanna

The actor-producer-BJP MP on getting industry status accorded to Bollywood

Vinod Khanna
Industry status was top priority for Bollywood. Were you instrumental in pushing it through?
Yes, I've worked hard to get industry status. The effort began in '94 when I met prime minister Narasimha Rao.

Has being a BJP MP helped you in this?
Yes, it's been much easier.

Is this a step towards institutional finance and many steps away from dubiously sourced funds?
Industry status will not bring institutional finance. For this, the RBI needs to formulate norms for risk evaluation in the film industry like it did for the software industry.

If the money comes, will it rid Bollywood of the mafia and extortion?
To the extent that for those desperate producers who turned to dubious sources in the absence of institutional finance, it will.

Are red and green channels a solution or should the censor be removed?
I think the idea floated by the I&B minister is excellent. It involves the same self-regulation that the film industry has been talking about.

Like the US, would it be best to have a watchdog body (from the film industry) to classify films for restricted and universal screening?
No. I'm happy with the idea of the film development council, which will make a quarterly review of the industry suggested by the minister. Let's see how it works.

Are censors and cultural morality going to be a problem area, given the Victorian sentiments of your party and the rest of the saffron fraternity?
Not Victorian, I see their sentiments as totally Indian. Despite popular perceptions, the BJP is for all forms of free expression—in a responsible manner.

How much would a film export council help the film industry?
Enormously. Right now producers are acting in an individual capacity. This would give negotiating leverage.

Do you expect the high rate of entertainment tax to dip now?
Not by getting industry status, but by being brought on the concurrent list.

Is it possible to bring the discipline of industry to Bollywood?
The film industry is not indisciplined, it has its own methods. But yes, it will bring in certain systems of working that will benefit everybody.

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