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Film Directors running away from U

FILM DIRECTORS RUNNING AWAY FROM U

By Abhishek Krishnan

Tax exemption, in Tamil Cinema has always been a tasty spice in the masala, for film producers. It can however be clipped with the saying, ‘Change is a phenomenon that never changes’. The elements that contribute to the exemption of taxes have always been changing with time.

There was a phase in Tamil Cinema when all the movies were released with Tamil titles. The reason was obvious. Tamil titles had tax exemption benefits during the previous government rule, pushing movie makers to catch hold of attractive Tamil titles, exhausting the Tamil dictionary in the process.

Eventually the ‘change’ phenomenon came into being. The government changed and so did the tax exemption rule. The movies not only needed to have Tamil titles, they also had to be movies that were eligible for family viewing. Now, there apparently is a little addition to the rule, ‘The ‘U’ factor’.

We are all aware about the different certifications that the censor board provides. A ‘U certificate’ means the movie is viewable universally. A ‘U/A’ denotes that the movie can be watched with parental guidance. An ‘A’ certified movie is self explanatory.

Most producers are keen at clinging on to the U certificate these days because of the tax exemption rule that emerged out about three years ago. All films with a U certificate are exempted from paying taxes. This unanticipated ‘U turn’ has resulted in directors engaging themselves in making scratches and cuts in their scripts trying their best to push their films into the U slot.

Tax exemptions are a boon to movies with large budgets. I know it does involve a few compromises. But you got to lose something if you want to gain something else’ says a popular producer when asked about the boons and banes of the current rule.

However, when we flip the coin over, we have got to realize that in the desperate race for a U certificate, the creative freedom of a director is being handcuffed. Movies have to be tailored, skewed, trimmed and polished to make it look like a ‘U’, which would otherwise be something else. Such movies easily affect the content that the movie carries making it look like an ordinary film.

Director Selvaraghavan had expressed his displeasure on the current movie making trends and the boundary line within which the directors are required to work.

Today meaningless comedy and soft action with a lot of loud dialogues are painfully the only allowed genres in Tamil Cinema. I am saddened about the fact that we are not allowed to free our arms.” A disappointed Selvaraghavan stated.

It is quite evident that the recent light paced, subtle approach to movies is clearly because of this tax exemption factor. However, there are movies that do not worry about what certificate it gets as long as they are able to portray what they desire.

We had an opportunity to speak to the popular producer C.V Kumar, the owner of ‘Thirukumaran Entertainment’, who is considered a huge path maker for the young entrants. He has always been supporting new film directors and has managed to strike gold on every occasion.

Forcing a director to shoot a movie for a U certificate, affects the content a great deal. I do not like compelling the directors to make changes that affect the commercial quality of the movie. If you take Attakathi and Pizza for instance, the movies were given a U/A. However, I have produced movies that have been given a U certificate too. It all depends on the script. I don’t have the U certificate in mind when I approve scripts. I focus more on the content and the ability of the director.

C.V Kumar was also delighted to express his views on how Pizza 2 was shaping up.

I have given full freedom to the director. I am sure the movie will be unique with world class visuals and sound. I do not know how the movie will be certified. But I wouldn’t mind anything as long as the content is good.”

In some cases, removing certain scenes from the movie just for U certification could possibly be a blunder, as the particular scene would have actually added more mileage to the movie’s commercial credibility, which in turn would earn them more than what they save from tax exemptions.

Hence, producers have got to be very analytical and definite if they want to push a movie for a U certificate. If they think the essence will be lost, they should be ready to give the script the priority and compromise on the certification.

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