Filmmaker Siddharth Roy Kapur on Thursday hailed the Maharashtra government's decision to allow theatres outside containment zones to reopen as he called for more incentives for the exhibition sector and content creators. On Wednesday, the state government permitted theatres and multiplexes outside containment zones to open with 50 percent capacity from Thursday. As per the guidelines, no eatables would be allowed inside the theatres and owners would have to ensure physical distancing and sanitisation.
At the inaugural panel discussion of "Panorama: Envisioning Film & Media Entertainment Policy for Maharashtra", Kapur said screen density in the state has been a "core issue" for the last couple of years.
"While cinemas have reopened, unfortunately the number of cinemas, especially the single screens, has been dwindling.
"If the government can take initiative to give some incentives, the way in the early 2000 there was a massive boon in the sector, where they were given incentive, the ease of doing business in terms of permissions was simplified... it'll be a wonderful opportunity," he added.
The producer was joined at the virtual discussion by Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra.
The three-day policy discourse event is organised by Maharashtra Film Stage and Cultural Development Corporation Limited (MFSCDCL) and Department of Cultural Affairs, Government of Maharashtra.
Kapur said the event has begun on an "auspicious" note with theatres and multiplexes restarting operations after being shut for many months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
He also urged the government to provide financial incentives to the filmmakers as the state's capital Mumbai is the place where most of the production activity takes place.
"Unfortunately, I don't think there is any financial incentive currently being given to those who are creating content here. There are other states in the country doing so, which I think is a great opportunity, if in Maharashtra as well we can give some financial incentive to producers to create content here.
"That will also lead to a renewal in the amount of content that's been created, both in Maharashtra as well as Mumbai," he added.
Kapur, who heads the Producers Guild of India (PGI), also noted that the film industry is an important soft power with massive cultural influence.
"As a film industry, what I would like to say is that we would like to contribute to the state as well as to the nation as being a strong soft power for the Indian popular culture, both here in India as well as around the world.
"Any efforts that are taken to protect the integrity of the industry, whenever we face issues, that do come up from time to time, because we are a soft target, I think those will also be appreciated," he said.
The film industry has been under scrutiny since actor Sushant Singh Rajput's death in June when it faced accusations relating to ill-treatment of outsiders and its apparent rampant drug culture as well as social media conspiracy theories regarding the industry's functioning.