Is the Entertainment Industry heading a Political agenda?

Entertainment Industry has always enjoyed its safe corner where nobody was asked to be responsible. Whether it was theatres, digital content or news, people could just watch, read gossip during their leisure time and forget about it. Even if an actor influenced you into buy a product it wasn’t a big deal. But that has all changed now. Since 2018, films became more socially aware, filmmakers were careful of their content and now actors began sharing political views too.

In July 2018 new GST rates were introduced where 28% tax was applicable to entertainment industry, causing a blow to the films that released in the second half of the year. The Blockbuster hits that 2018 saw through the year all emerged from the first half of the year. Film like Padmaavat, Sanju, Sonu Ki Titu Ki Sweety, Raazi, Bagghi 2, Padman all released before July. While the highest movie collection was 301 crores for Padmaavat and 175 crores for Sanju, the highest towards the end of the year were films like Andhadhun 179 crores and Badhaai Ho 125 crores.

After the collective Box office collection took a hit filmmakers pitched for lower, and uniform rates of GST, for the entertainment industry during a delegation held in December. Entertainment that works on audience satisfaction and money also enjoys immense power in terms on influence and global status that only seems to be growing.

On Dec 18th 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said to have an “extensive and fruitful interaction” with a delegation of Bollywood producers and actors. Speaking to IANS, Siddharth Roy Kapur after the meeting had said: “The main agenda to discuss with PM Narendra Modi was what the entertainment industry in India can contribute as a soft power of the nation around the world and how it would be wonderful if the government could encourage this industry in very tangible ways to be able to grow and thrive.”

In January 2019, there was another meeting held, where A-list actors, filmmakers and producers met Prime Minister after which the 28% GST was reduced to 18%. Meanwhile, the reduced taxes gave a boost to the films released in the first quarter of 2019. The all-time blockbuster URI made, 243.24 Crore, whereas Gully Boy managed to collect Rs 132.75 crore in 29 days.

While the industry flourished in collection a new trend began, immediately in February 2019, Cobrapost reports began to surface and more than 30 Bollywood celebrities, including Jackie Shroff, Kailash Kher, Sonu Sood and Vivek Oberoi, were allegedly caught in a sting operation for agreeing to promote the agenda of parties on social media platforms in exchange for money.

More so to create awareness and help people realise their right and duties, actors began tweeting on social media showing their support to parties and talking about the government’s good deeds.

In the first 4 months of the year Bollywood has seen 5 political movies that directly or indirectly make a political statement, with PM Narendra Modi still on hold for release. Election Commission ordered that “any biopic material in the nature of biography/hagiography sub serving the purposes of any political entity or any individual entity connected to it, which is intended to, or which has the potential to disturb the level playing field during the elections, should not be displayed in electronic media”.

Even though the film is on hold we still have the film being promoted through media, and high TRP TV shows blatantly promoting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s image and the schemes that have been announced under the current government.

The most recent development however has 907 artists coming forward with a joint statement urging vote casters to support Bharatiya Janata Party and vote for the party. If 5 years ago social media had been used to influence the masses into casting vote for a worthy party this election we have Entertainment industry upping the game, covering more area. That being said, will the Entertainment Industry be at the forefront of campaigning in the coming years? Will this move influence voters who make for a major fan base? The questions remain to be answered after May 29, when the results will be out.

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