The ACT-1978 filmmaker took to social media to address several key issues in relation to taxes levied on Kannada films.
Last Updated: 10.01 AM, Jun 19, 2022
Karnataka government's recent order to exempt 777 Charlie from SGST ( State Goods or Service Tax) has come as a pleasant surprise. Many lauded the move that came in favor of spreading awareness about animal adoption and also the ill effects of inbreeding among animals, thus lending an extra hand to the film in its pursuits. While this may paint quite the rosy picture about the state administration's take on art and cinema, filmmaker Manso Re has not taken very kindly to the special status awarded to the Rakshit Shetty film. The ACT-1978 filmmaker has shot back at the tax exemption move, lamenting that the Kannada film industry has consistently produced films worthy of similar gestures but none, barring Rakshit Shetty & Co., have had the honor so far.
Manso Re is known for directing films like Harivu, Naticharami, and ACT-1978 and is regarded as one of the foremost voices of present-day Kannada cinema. His film Harivu won the National Award in the Best Kannada Film category in 2015.
In the open letter penned by Manso Re through his Facebook handle, the filmmaker would touch upon the past and the present scenarios for Kannada filmmakers and how the relationship between cinema and the state evolved over time. Not mincing his words at any point, Manso Re directs his questions straight at CM Bommai in his letter to demand several clarifications.
"I am very happy about the fact that 777 Charlie has been exempted from further GST - I think such gestures are important for our cinema to grow. However, were you aware of the fact that before your tenure began, and before the B.J.P. took over, every Kannada film that was shot entirely in Karnataka was given 100% tax exemption ( the films picturized outside the state had to provide strong justification)? And would you be aware that it was your administration that, in the name of GST took this freedom (of tax exemption) away from Kannadigas to burden all the film producers here? In the past, when former Karnataka CM Mr. Ramakrishna Hegde wanted to levy an entertainment tax on Kannada films, our legend Dr. Rajkumar stood firm against it and even stated that he would be giving up acting and returning to his hometown, should the state uphold its decision. Mr. Hegde would then meet with Dr. Raj to pacify and convince him to not take the drastic step of quitting cinema and went on to withdraw the entertainment tax decision. And soon after, the decision to exempt all Kannada films made in Karnataka from taxes would be made, as a result of Annavru's strong resolve. Did you know that it was your B.J.P. government that took away this privilege (possible only because of the legend) from the Kannada film industry?"
But that wasn't it. In the same open letter, Manso Re goes on to list noteworthy Kannada films made over the last couple of years (Pedro, Koli Taal, Dollu, Daari Yavudayya Vaikhuntakke, Amruthamathi, Neeli Hakki, etc.) that, according to him, are as significant as 777 Charlie for they represent human life and crisis beautifully and have been made entirely in Karnataka (aside from their achievements at an international level). He adds that none of the aforementioned films have received any leeway in terms of taxes and that granting the privilege to a single film (777 Charlie) would mean to be against the wishes of Annavru.
"While I completely understand your love for dogs which resulted in 777 Charlie gaining tax exemption, I would like to confirm on behalf of all the Kannadigas that you (Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai) would be compensating for the exempted funds from your own pocket," came a bold question from Manso Re. He stated further that no Kannada film producer, including the ones of 777 Charlie, would want to go against Dr. Rajkumar's wishes but his plea is made with all sincerity, keeping the livelihood of many technicians, actors, workers, etc. of the film fraternity in mind. He concluded his open letter by reiterating his main plea of 100% tax exemption for all Kannada films that are produced on the land of Karnataka.
It would be interesting to see whether the fierce statement made by Manso Re gains any traction and reaches the intended. Keeping the influx of small to medium-budgeted films in mind, conversations around state-levied taxes will prove vital in the shaping of the Kannada Film Industry. More updates to follow soon.