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Sikkim is India’s Most Film Friendly State

admin   March 22, 2021

At the 67th National Film Awards 2019, Sikkim was adjudged the most film friendly state in India. The picturesque state in northeastern India well deserves this honour. For, besides providing beautiful locales to filmmakers, it also offers all necessary support to them, thus emerging the most film friendly state of the country.

Sikkim is also home to glaciers, alpine meadows and thousands of varieties of wildflowers. Steep paths lead to hilltop Buddhist monasteries such as Pemayangtse, which dates to the early 1700s.

Eminent filmmaker Shaji N Karun was Chairman of the Jury that selected Sikkim as the most film friendly State in 2019. The other Jury members in the panel were Ravi Kottarakara, Manju Borah, Firdausul Hasan and Abhishek Shah.

Announcing the Most Film Friendly State Award to Sikkim, Jury Chairman Shaji N Karun stated that Sikkim by virtue is very beautiful. “Our Jury visited Sikkim. They found that this is the probably the best state to be discovered in India. The jury members were impressed with Sikkim being develped as a filming state and even offer incentives to filmmakers, develop infrastructure and as well as encourage skills and talent development, despite limited resources. Moreover, Sikkim impressed with their honest approach and film friendliness towards filmmaking community with their vision and concern, which was far above than any other Indian State — especially, given the difficult terrain, location and size,” said Shaji N Karun.

Thirteen Indian States were considered by the Jury for this Award. The jury also gave a list of 30 recommenations to the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting for examination and consideration of States in the Most Film Friendly Awards category

Film industry leaders maintained that Sikkim bagged the Award because of the film friendly gesture and leadership of the Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang, better known as P S Golay.

Prominent shooting locales of Sikkim include Gangtok, Tsomgo Lake, Yuksom, Khangchendzonga National Park, Nathula Pass, Lachung, Lachen and Yumthang Valley, Ravangla, Namchi and Zuluk.

But, fully understanding that pristine locales alone are not enough to attract filmmakers, the government there has implemented a string of measures.

The state has planned concrete steps to ease out the process of planning and shooting films in the state and is committed to offer an investor-friendly policy to make the work of filmmakers easy.

Sikkim Government provides financial support to eligible local film with the maximum limit of Rs 20 lakh per movie. Departments have to complete the clearances within a stipulated time frame of 15-30 days and can issue permissions to shoot films in the general areas under forest cover after verifying the requisite documents and credentials.

So, all these things have made Sikkim a preferred destination of filmmakers and propelled it to bag the most film friendly state in India honour.

The institution of the ‘Most Film Friendly State’ Award, is positioned to promote ease of filming across India. The State of Gujarat was selected as the most film freindly state in India in 2015, the State of Uttar Pradesh in 2016, the State of Madhya Pradesh in 2017, the state of Uttarakhand bagged the honour for most film friendly State in 2018 is a unique initiative in this direction.

EVERYTHING ABOUT SIKKIM

Sikkim is the 22nd state of India came into existence with effect from 26th April, 1975. Sikkim has been divided into four districts and each district has further been bifurcated into two sub-divisions for administrative purpose. Sikkim state being a part of inner mountain ranges of Himalayas, is hilly having varied elevation ranging from 300 to 8540 meters. But the habitable areas are only up to the altitude of 2100 mtrs. Constituting only 20% of the total area of the state. The highest portion of sikkim lies in its north west direction.

A large number of mountains having altitudes of about seven thousand meters stands here with – Kanchenjunga (8598 m.), The third highest peak in the world. The high serrated, snow capped spurs and peaks of Kanchenjunga look attractive consisting of Kumbha Karna (7711 m.), Pendem (6706 m.), Narsingh (5825 m.), Kabru Dome (6545 m.), etc. A number of glaciers descends from eastern slopes of Kanchenjunga into Sikkim where snow clad line is found above 5300 mtrs. The biggest of them is Zemu, from whose snout above Lachen monastery rises the river Teesta. Teesta is the main river and its main tributaries are Zemu, Lachung, Rangyong, Dikchu, Rongli, Rangpo and Rangit which form the main channel of drainage from the north to the south.

It boasts of the great mount Kanchendzonga as its crown. Ethically Sikkim has mainly three groups of people viz. Nepalis, Bhutias, Lepchas. The local language is Nepali. English is the official language. This jewel- like mountain state of ethereal beauty with an area of 7299 sq. kms , nestles in the heart of Himalayas. Cradled in the manifold splendors of nature deep within the snow clad Himalayas is Sikkim’s capital Gangtok. Wrapped in mists and clouds, a garden state with an incredible variety of rhododendrons & a host of other flowers.

FOR FILM SHOOTING IN SIKKIM CONTACT

Bishal Khawas
Information and Public Relations Department, Government of Sikkim
EMAIL: khawasb@gmail.com


Featured Post

Not right time to open cinema halls: Ravi Kottarakara

admin   July 28, 2020

Amid reports that the government was set to unveil standard operating procedures paving way for the opening of theatres which remain shut ever since the Covid-19 induced lockdown was implemented in March, the South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce has felt it is not conducive for cinema halls to open in current conditions and amid restrictions.

SIFCC Secretary Ravi Kottarakara has said cinema theatres should resume operations only after two months of cinema production. This would allow free flow of content into cinema screens. The timing also has to align with the availability of Hollywood and other foreign language films.  

Many Hollywood films have postponed films slated for release scheduled for the next three months. There are over 3800 single screen theatres in South India (Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh., Telangana, kerala, Karnataka, Puducherry).


Featured Post

No Business as Usual for Film Industry

admin   July 13, 2020

COVID-19 has stunned film producers in India, who see the pandemic causing major disruptions in the way this unique industry functions. Here are some major challenges and remedial measures that can be taken to help the industry get back on its feet By Ravi Kottarakara

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused an irreparable damage to businesses and industries globally. Our film industry too finds itself into quite a predicament and the writing on the wall is absolutely clear. The Indian film industry has a peculiar ecosystem and its mode of functioning is entirely different from the normal industrial practices. In the past few years, the business in the Indian film industry has seen a lot of volatility—marked by lots of failures and a meager success rate of say 15%. Adding fuel to the fire, the COVID-19 pandemic has created so much havoc and pandemonium that it’s a difficult task to imagine recovery of the film industry anytime soon.

I have underlined some of issues of the film industry that need to be addressed before we resume business as usual:

PRODUCERS / PRODUCTION SECTOR

The film producers are stunned due to the several issues caused by the novel Corona virus and the lockdown that followed after its outbreak.

Released Films Losses

Some of the films that were released and screened at the cinema halls and were doing well in terms of box office collection have been abruptly stopped after the announcement of lockdown. This has caused irretrievable and permanent loss to the film producers and distributors [During the
lockdown there were around 80 to 90 films in different languages running in various cinema halls pan India]. The financial loss accrued due to abrupt closure of cinema halls during the lockdown is alone expected to amount to more than Rs. 400 crores.

Shooting Locations and Sets

Some film shootings had to be stopped suddenly in the aftermath of COVID-19 crisis that has caused huge losses to film producers. Adding to the injury, many gigantic sets erected by them for shooting are now wearing out [the shooting sets are temporary and made from perishable materials, so lifespan of these setsis very short]. Besides the uncertainty that looms over the commencementof film shootings, the Monsoon season will be another
factor leading to the total destruction of sets, thus creating irreversible losses to the producers as now they would have to erect new sets and structures again. The producers will also have to pay daily rent for the locations where these sets have been erected.It will be an additional cost to him.

Reorganizing and Rescheduling

To start the shooting process is another herculean task as the producers will have to now get new shooting dates from their respective artistes and technicians and reschedule the shooting. Adding to our woes, we are aware that some the artistes and technicians need to travel from different states for shootings. Some films have to be shot in outdoor locations like garden/
parks, bus stands, airports, roads, historical monuments, temples, and farmlands, etc, and shooting at many of these locations doesn’t seem a possibility in near future. Some of these films have to be shot in foreign locations and it looks like an impossible task to get permissions to shoot in those foreign locations in near future.

Unfortunate Loss of Lives & Displacement of workers

In this difficult time, we are experiencing another major issue. Unfortunately, some of our artistes and technicians have become victims of the COVID-19 pandemic and many are experiencing depression, tensions, mental ailments and other issues due to uncertainty in resuming shootings. Now all these film have to be reshot using new artists which would incur additional costs to the producer. Many of the daily wage/ contract and semiskilled workers have returned to their native states and it would be an uphill task to get them resume work.

Debts & Interest on finance

Meanwhile, one of the biggest issues we are facing is the interest accruing on loans after cancellation of shooting and delay in completing and recovering our investments from the projects. The interests to be paid to financiers are mounting by each passing day. Since films are not financed by banks as the film production is perceived as a high risk industry, film producers borrow money at a very high rate of interest of 30% to 48% per annum which is very exorbitant but there is no other option.

Release of films

Even if we complete with a film facing all these hurdles,another major stumbling block would be trying to release the film in these desperate times. The reasons are:

a) To think of a worldwide release looks like an impossibility at this time.We would lose money to be received from those territories/ markets.

b) The cine goers would think twice to watch films in theatres by taking
undue risk of contracting the virus.

c) In this volatile market the distributors would not come forward to buy films.

THEATRES / EXHIBITORS

Social Distancing at Theatres Social distancing will be maintained very strictly at theatres. Tickets will be sold for every alternate or every third seat to maintain a gap between two occupants.

Screening Sanitizing

Further, prior to every show, before entry each and every individual going in for the show will be individually screened for temperature and sanitized before allowed in the premises.

Issues of Screening Films

Post screening, cleansing and disinfection and sanitizing of theatre hall, individual seats, corridors, toilets, will also be done. This will eat into the total time available for shows. The number of shows will have to be reduced to a maximum of three instead of four shows as the lot of time will go into screening, cleaning/sanitization of halls. The time between each show will increase due to checking and sanitizing each individual.Also, the interval time will have to be increased to avoid congestion at food courts/
stalls, etc.

Reduced Footfalls

As there exists a fear of Corona in the minds of the public and the entertainment is available to them on digital mediums like satellite TV and OTT platforms, the need for the public to watch cinema at theatres must be encouraged. Since cinema is still the cheapest form of entertainment in India, we are hopeful that the public will revisit theatres and watch films on large screens coupled with quality sound systems.

Relief sought from the State Government

  • 50% reduction in property tax during lean period*
  • Flat 30% reduction in Electricity Tariffs/Bills for a limited period*[From rates of April 1st]
  • Local Body Entertainment Tax holiday for 5 years. [LBET]
  • No Ticket Price Capping and the unfettered Right to increase the ticket price by the exhibitors due a)restricted sale of 50% capacity of theatre.
  • All shooting Locations such as parks, roads, gardens, Bus stand, Beaches, etc should be given for shooting at Rs.1000/- per day only.
  • *Period is three years.
  • All Monuments, Temples, Archeological Sites, Railway stations, Dams, must be charge only Rs.5000/- per day[Indemnity Bond to be given by producer in case of any damages incurred]
  • Single window permission and clearances for shooting at any location within 72 hours.
  • TDS deduction on sale of copyright rights to Digital, OTT, Satellite, etc, to be reduced to 1%.
  • Instruct Banks to finance film producers/ distributors/ cinema hall at a concessional rate of interest. [the same Rate as for MSME sectors].
  • Central Subsidy of Rs 5 lakh only to be given to the film producer [whose name appears in Censor Board certificate] for every film released [minimum in 10 screens], irrespective of language and where the budget of the film is less than Rs 3 crores[based submissions to Income tax]. The amount to be paid within six months from the date of release of the film.
  • Reduction of GST from 18% to 12% and 12 % to 5% ( there are two slabs).
  • A service charge of Rs.30 at Non A/c Theatres, Rs.40 at A/c Theatres, Rs.50 at multiplexes could be added to every ticket purchased to recover the cost incurred for providing additional sanitization services at theatres and during Film Production [This is collectible by an additional coupon to be issued with every ticket]. The service charge money will be split three ways between the Exhibitor [where film is screened], producer [appears on the censor certificate] and the governments in the ration of 40:30:30 –exhibitor 40% ,producer 30% and government 30% [Central 15% & State 15%, respectively]
  • This service charge is to compensate the exhibitor/producer for the extra expenses/costs incurred on safety measures of sanitization procedures. These recommendations made by us is just to provide some sort of remedial help to the industry on a temporary basis, but in the long run we would only be able to ascertain the damage after the wrath of corona is over and the industry starts functioning.


IFFI is not just a Festival, but Festivities

admin   November 24, 2019

Ravi Kottarakara, a film industry veteran of 40-years and a key IFFI member who has been associated with the event since the 80s, shares his journey, highlighting how the film extravaganza has grown by leaps and bounds since 1952, when the idea was conceived

Your best memories and nostalgia of IFFI

I have been attending IFFI since 80s. You know that IFFI started in 1952. Frank Capra was invited and a small controversy took place when Pataal Bhairavi was screened. People asked why Pataal Bhairavi was screened. With humility they said, it represents the ethos and culture of Indian cinema. It has been screened not for any artistic representation. It was a big argument but then it still went on continuing, then every year we had IFFI.

I still remember watching film Taxi Driver. That was a Robert De Niro film and first of its kind in that genre. I found it slightly bold. I learnt the art of filmmaking from that movie. Next year, we had a Kannada film called Ondanondu Kaladalli which was directed by Girish Karnad and starred Sunder Krishna, Shankar Nag and Sundar Raj, screening at the event which took place at Delhi.

Since then, I started attending the festival every year. In 1980 we had Shatranj Ke Khilari and in 1981 we had Aakrosh. To my knowledge Aakrosh is the first film which was shot on 16mm and then blown upto 35mm screen. That movie won the first Golden Peacock Award. In 1980 there was Bhumika which was Smita Patil’s film directed by Shyam Bengal. Thanneer Thanneer was also screened the same year. Similarly in 1982, 1983 the festival went well. In 1984 the festival took place at Mumbai where I saw a fantastic film Koyaanisqatsi. The hero of the film was photography and the heroine was music. It took nearly 14 years to get the film made. The film represented the culture change. It stated that even if the culture will be replaced by globalisation and computerization, you will come back to the roots, to the nature, from where you started. The film was based on this and it is one of the finest movies ever made.

Earlier the film festival was of 14 days. First week 70 shows, second week 70 shows, every day 5 shows. One day N T Rama Rao chief minister of Andra Pradesh on his regular visit to he Ramakrishna theater where festival films were screened found that all the delegates had to go out to have lunch in between the short gaps. He immediately arranged Chicken and Vegetable biryani for all the 1000 odd delegates and told thier duty was to watch films and learn about cinema and gain technical skills.

The advantage of the festival is that it increased my knowledge and learning because you watch so many films. Slowly the government realized that we should have a permanent venue. By 2002, it was decided that the film festival should be given a permanent venue, like Cannes film festival has. They decided for Goa. The late Goan CM Manohar Parikar invited us to hold the festival in his state. And since 2004, there has been no looking back.

Our festival is growing every year. Today it has come to a stage where we are having roughly 13,000 visitors and the number and the quality of films has increased. In fact, in 2005-06 we started the master classes which was a big success. Lot of people started coming in, number of foreign delegates also started increasing. They started doubling year by year. Since this is the 50th year, we are going to have a whole team of foreign delegates.

I am also thankful to the government for putting me in the steering committee every year. This year too, I am part of the committee and we are honouring around 12 stalwarts plus we will be screening around 24 films.

We will have Oscar section separately, then best of Indian films. For the first time, we are trying to make a film for the visually impaired being screened there. The most important is the selection for this time for the festival is fantastic. It will be in fact the better selection than Cannes. In Cannes they have gone little bit EU oriented. But, we have not gone EU oriented, we are only deciding the best films. Thanks to our government under the great leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi Ji, our I&B Minister Shri Prakash Javadekar has taken lot of efforts and his entire team, Directorate of Film Festival, ESG they had many meetings to ensure that this festival becomes a big success. There is going to be a big opening ceremony where Shankar Mahadevan is performing with a silent movie being screened along with the live recording. The most important thing is honouring and respecting legends. We are honouring the Great Amitabh Bachchan ji and Shri Rajnikanth. This festival is a place where you will see only festivities. Everyone being honoured, everyone enjoying. People have visual treat as they get so many films to watch. It is a journey since 1952, when this dream was conceived, on the footsteps of festivals like Cannes and Locarno. Today IFFI ranks amongst top 10 festivals.

How has IFFI Influenced Film Makers?

Today we can proudly say we make some of the best films in the world. Not only art films, but commercial movies too. We should thank IFFI for making us stand at this position today. If IFFI wasn’t there, many of us wouldn’t have the awards, recognition that what we have today.

Finally talk about your father K.P Kottarakara’s association with festivals?

My father never attended 1952 festival but after that he attended all the festivals. His film Pasamalar was also screened in the festival.

People surrounding him, friends, all his subordinates like Rishikesh Mukherjee, Tapan Sinha, Basu Da, B R Chopra, Shakti Samant, C. V. Sridhar and all those stalwarts, they all watch films. Their intention is not just see the film but learning the art of filmmaking. My father always used to say, if you want to make good films, watch films and the right place to watch films was IFFI. That time we never had any place, we never had DVDs, there was no internet. Only place where you got access to foreign films was IFFI.

Do you think festivals will continue to run in future despite the fact that new screens are emerging and technology is growing?

Till the time there are passionate filmmakers, the festivals will survive. It will only grow day by day and remain in the hearts of people because it’s a place where you watch the best films, speak to the great people who are involved with films, be a part of master class, learn things, learn from friends, fellow filmmakers, meet them and greet them. It’s a storehouse and like a huge library where you can watch lot of films, enjoy and build your career upwards.


IFFI is not just a Festival, but Festivities

admin   November 22, 2019

Ravi Kottarakara, a film industry veteran of 40-years and a key IFFI member who has been associated with the event since the 80s, shares his journey, highlighting how the film extravaganza has grown by leaps and bounds since 1952, when the idea was conceived

Your best memories and nostalgia of IFFI

I have been attending IFFI since 80s. You know that IFFI started in 1952. Frank Capra was invited and a small controversy took place when Pataal Bhairavi was screened. People asked why Pataal Bhairavi was screened. With humility they said, it represents the ethos and culture of Indian cinema. It has been screened not for any artistic representation. It was a big argument but then it still went on continuing, then every year we had IFFI.

I still remember watching film Taxi Driver. That was a Robert De Niro film and first of its kind in that genre. I found it slightly bold. I learnt the art of filmmaking from that movie. Next year, we had a Kannada film called Ondanondu Kaladalli which was directed by Girish Karnad and starred Sunder Krishna, Shankar Nag and Sundar Raj, screening at the event which took place at Delhi.

Since then, I started attending the festival every year. In 1980 we had Shatranj Ke Khilari and in 1981 we had Aakrosh. To my knowledge Aakrosh is the first film which was shot on 16mm and then blown upto 35mm screen. That movie won the first Golden Peacock Award. In 1980 there was Bhumika which was Smita Patil’s film directed by Shyam Bengal. Thanneer Thanneer was also screened the same year. Similarly in 1982, 1983 the festival went well. In 1984 the festival took place at Mumbai where I saw a fantastic film Koyaanisqatsi. The hero of the film was photography and the heroine was music. It took nearly 14 years to get the film made. The film represented the culture change. It stated that even if the culture will be replaced by globalisation and computerization, you will come back to the roots, to the nature, from where you started. The film was based on this and it is one of the finest movies ever made.

Earlier the film festival was of 14 days. First week 70 shows, second week 70 shows, every day 5 shows. One day N T Rama Rao chief minister of Andra Pradesh on his regular visit to the Ramakrishna theater where festival films were screened found that all the delegates had to go out to have lunch in between the short gaps. He immediately arranged Chicken and Vegetable biryani for all the 1000 odd delegates and told thier duty was to watch films and learn about cinema and gain technical skills.

The advantage of the festival is that it increased my knowledge and learning because you watch so many films. Slowly the government realized that we should have a permanent venue. By 2002, it was decided that the film festival should be given a permanent venue, like Cannes film festival has. They decided for Goa. The late Goan CM Manohar Parikar invited us to
hold the festival in his state. And since 2004, there has been no looking back.

Our festival is growing every year. Today it has come to a stage where we are having roughly 13,000 visitors and the number and the quality of films has increased. In fact, in 2005-06 we started the master classes which was a big success. Lot of people started coming in, number of foreign delegates also started increasing. They started doubling year by year. Since this is the 50th year, we are going to have a whole team of foreign delegates.

I am also thankful to the government for putting me in the steering committee every year. This year too, I am part of the committee and we are honouring around 12 stalwarts plus we will be screening around 24 films.

We will have Oscar section separately, then best of Indian films. For the first time, we are trying to make a film for the visually impaired being screened there. The most important is the selection for this time for the festival is fantastic. It will be in fact the better selection than Cannes. In Cannes they have gone little bit EU oriented. But, we have not gone EU oriented, we are only deciding the best films. Thanks to our government under the great leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi Ji, our I&B Minister Shri Prakash Javadekar has taken lot of efforts and his entire team, Directorate of Film Festival, ESG they had many meetings to ensure that this festival becomes a big success. There is going to be a big opening ceremony where Shankar Mahadevan is performing with a silent movie being screened along with the live recording. The most important thing is honouring and respecting legends. We are honouring the Great Amitabh Bachchan ji and Shri Rajnikanth. This festival is a place where you will see only festivities. Everyone being honoured, everyone enjoying. People have visual treat as they get so many films to watch. It is a journey since 1952, when this dream was conceived, on the footsteps of festivals like Cannes and Locarno. Today IFFI ranks amongst top 10 festivals.

How has IFFI Influenced Film Makers?

Today we can proudly say we make some of the best films in the world. Not only art films, but commercial movies too. We should thank IFFI for making us stand at this position today. If IFFI wasn’t there, many of us wouldn’t have the awards, recognition that what we have today.

Finally talk about your father K.P Kottarakara’s association with festivals?

My father never attended 1952 festival but after that he attended all the festivals. His film Pasamalar was also screened in the festival.
People surrounding him, friends, all his subordinates like Rishikesh Mukherjee, Tapan Sinha, Basu Da, B R Chopra, Shakti Samant, C. V. Sridhar and all those stalwarts, they all watch films. Their intention is not just see the film but learning the art of filmmaking. My father always used to say, if you want to make good films, watch films and the right place to watch films was IFFI. That time we never had any place, we never had DVDs, there was no internet. Only place where you got access to foreign films was IFFI.

Do you think festivals will continue to run in future despite the fact that new screens are emerging and technology is growing?

Till the time there are passionate filmmakers, the festivals will survive. It will only grow day by day and remain in the hearts of people because it’s a place where you watch the best films, speak to the great people who are involved with films, be a part of master class, learn things, learn from friends, fellow filmmakers, meet them and greet them. It’s a storehouse and like a huge library where you can watch lot of films, enjoy and build your career upwards.