The cap on India’s film incentives, unveiled at Cannes in March, could rise dramatically if necessary, the country’s top film bureaucrat has revealed.
Currently, the Indian Federal Government reimburses up to 30% of qualifying manufacturing expenditures up to a maximum of INR 20 million ($244,000). An additional 5% up to a maximum of INR 5 million ($61,100) will be awarded to productions with 15% or more manpower in India. The minimum threshold for qualifying production expenditures is INR 25 million ($305,500).
“We are open to suggestions and ideas, we are in talks with the Motion Picture Association and I propose to hold a meeting in Mumbai with the larger overseas studios, which are represented in India. And taking into account their feedback, as we would also like to have some big names and big pictures, and in case this cap is a hindrance and the cap needs to be raised, we can certainly consider that,” Apurva Chandra, Secretary told, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India Variety at the International Film Festival of India, Goa.
“Let’s say the limit is $2 million or $3 million, I think that should be enough even for a big movie, I would think, and we’re open to raising that after discussions and feedback from the industry,” added Chandra.
In September this year, Chandra had revealed that India’s Film Facilitation Office (FFO), the go-to body for international film projects in the country, hitherto managed by the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC), would be led by Invest India, the investment promotion and facilitation agency that helps global investors search for investment opportunities and options in India. The process is now underway.
Invest India is the government’s face for every international investor and has already raised some $60 billion in foreign direct investment, with another $196 billion in the pipeline. The investment has mainly been in the manufacturing industry across India. About 18 states also have filming incentives.
“The focus was largely on production, less on services, while filmmaking is more of a service-oriented industry, you don’t set up permanent infrastructure. Invest India is a ready-made backbone. All state governments are already represented in the authorizations, the processes of authorizations, the nodal officers, everything is there. And then they are also active with foreign governments and foreign clients for attracting investment in India. So we think it will be the right move because they have a lot of credibility with foreign investors,” Chandra said. “They will be the right match because at the back they are connected to the states and at the front they are connected to the foreign customers.”
“About the permission to shoot at a certain location, what it essentially means in India is someone has to control the traffic, someone has to control the crowd, because in India, of course, any shooting is a very big attraction for the local public. There an automatic admission really doesn’t work because the police, the local law enforcement apparatus needs to be on board that single window will be operated by Invest India because they have a connection to the lowest field level officials and they will be on board and all the clearances will are given through FFO and for a person who wants to shoot in India, FFO will be the only point of approach,” added Chandra.
Chandra has more welcome news for international projects to be shot in the country. The FFO website, which is being revamped in an FDI-friendly manner, will also track the payment of movie premiums. “Announcing the stimulus is one thing, but then, whether it actually gets processed, it gets paid and how long that takes — we’ll follow that up on behalf of the person shooting and also with the states,” Chandra said. “And to facilitate that, we’re going to come out with a state ranking — just as we have an ease-of-business ranking, we’ll have an ease-of-shoot ranking.”
India currently has 15 international co-production treaties and they are being renewed. “The fact is, since we didn’t have an incentive arrangement, they didn’t really take off in that sense. Now, since we have our incentive schedule and the states have their own incentives, all of that can be plugged into a co-producer, so that a co-producer gets the incentive from our country, from the states in our country, and also from the country that we have the co-production treaty with have signed. So it will, I think, work to great advantage. And we want to expand the number of co-production treaties and now draw the logical conclusion, the existing treaties,” said Chandra.