Discussion on ‘Film Industry as a Driver of U’khand’s Economy’ held at VoW
By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun, 12 Nov: One of the highlights of first day of the Valley of Words 2022 International Literature & Arts Festival was a lively session on “Film Industry as Driver of the Uttarakhand Economy”. The session was chaired by Abhinav Kumar, Special Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister and Secretary (Information), while the discussion was anchored by Garhwal Post Editor and Actor Satish Sharma. Film Producer and Actor Kunal Malla and Film Director Avinash Dhyani also participated in this lively session. Dhyani is now settled in Uttarakhand.
In response to a question in this regard by Satish Sharma, Special Principal Secretary Abhinav Kumar spoke about the upcoming revised film policy of the Uttarakhand Government. He revealed that Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami has approved in principle a proposal to set up a film city in about 100 acres of land around Doiwala area in Dehradun. Kumar added that the government objective is not to create a film city like the one in Hyderabad but to create infrastructure for film production and post production work so that an entire film could be produced and completed in the state itself. He reminded that Dehradun, Mussoorie and Nainital have been favourite locations for film shooting for many years. However, it is now emerging as a major shooting location for films and, in the past one year, more than 300 big and small films have been shot in the state, which is a big achievement.
Kumar added that the state government is looking at setting up a film city and the infrastructure for pre and post production work, beginning from writing screenplays to animation, dubbing and editing so that revenue could be generated and employment provided to the local talent in acting, writing or production work. He also disclosed that the draft policy has been uploaded on the Information Department’s website and called upon the experts from the industry to offer suggestions. He said that the government would incorporate relevant suggestions in the new film policy. He added that suggestions have also been sought from the general public regarding the proposed film policy-2022 by the Uttarakhand Film Development Council. He said that the government wishes to connect artists, local people, actors and everyone collectively with the new film policy. The increase in shooting of films in the state of Uttarakhand would provide more employment to the people, here, and provide new opportunities to the youth. He added that, while Dehradun, Mussoorie and Nainital have been extensively covered in many films, it would be interesting for the filmmakers to explore new locations in the state. He reminded that a leading film maker like Raj Kapoor had stayed in Harsil (Uttarkashi) for two months to shoot his film so the onus is on the film makers to explore new locations. Kumar asserted that Uttarakhand, in particular, is an outdoor shooting destination. He added that, while it might not be practical for the government to invest in creation of single screen or multiplex theatres, it is amenable to suggestions that some shows in the existing multiplex theatres could be reserved for local language films made in the state.
Kumar also informed the gathering that the government is in talks with the Times of India Group to launch an Uttarakhand edition of Filmfare Awards.
Satish Sharma praised the upcoming film policy and added that some locally produced films are being made in right earnest. He mentioned that a recently made film, titled Maati Pehchan, by a local filmmaker had high production quality. He added that it would be prudent for the state to promote such efforts. Sharma also stated that another film, titled Major Nirala, produced by Aarushi Pokhriyal Nishank was also made well with limited resources. Another film maker from Dehradun, Varun Gupta, is now working on a film on the Statehood Agitation, the poster of which was released by Chief Minister Dhami at a recently held event.
Film Director Avinash Dhyani who has made notable films like “72 Hours” on local war hero of the Indo-China war, Rifleman Jaswant Singh, suggested that the government to consider granting subsidies to professional filmmakers in advance in order to help them complete the films. He pointed out that getting funds even for professionally produced films is a challenge and the filmmakers often have to seek funds on interest. He also reminded that he had recently completed his latest film, Sumeru, and had applied for the subsidy. Pointing out that some parameters exist for grant of subsidy after the production, he said that similar parameters could be applied for grant of subsidy before the completion of production, itself, which would be a big help for genuine filmmakers.
Actor Kunal Shamsher Malla praised the proactive role of the state government in granting permission for shooting and pointed out that he is able to procure permission to shoot within a matter of hours. He also sang a song at the request of Satish Sharma on the occasion.
KH Zaidi, father of noted film maker Ali Abbas Zafar, festival director Dr Sanjeev Chopra, former Chief Secretary N Ravi Shankar and Dr Rajendra Dobhal were among those present on the occasion.