Entertainment as per the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India is taxable!! The Entertainment Tax is charged to increase the revenue source for the state governments. Thus the tax differs from state to state. For instance, in Maharashtra, the Entertainment Tax is 45% and for the regional Marathi film, the Entertainment Tax is Zero. The Maximum Entertainment Tax is charged in Bihar where it is 50%
Though Entertainment Tax is charged for generating revenue some films are soul-stirring and have a huge impact on society. Hence many states make such films Tax Free so that the film reaches a wider audience and the movie can bring a change in society.
The first Indian film to become Tax-Free was film director V Shantaram‘s Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje 1956. The film highlighted the Indian Classical Dance form and created a fondness for declining Indian dance form in India. The film was a huge success. The Indian government saluted the film for a great message and awarded the Best Film National Award. In fact, even the popular Filmfare Awards selected the film as Best Film and Best Director award to V Shantaram. The Tax-Free status earned the film huge box-office success and the film revived Indian dance tradition.
Similarly, in the ’70s famous comedian and filmmaker Mehmood‘s made a comedy film which had a thought-provoking message. The film was Kunwara Baap (1974) which advocated the importance of polio vaccination. The film was granted Tax-Free in many states including Maharashtra. Interestingly, after the release of the film the message of polio vaccination was spread to the nooks and corners of India and the film played a vital role in educating Indians about the polio diseases and it helped to bring down polio cases in India. Today polio has been completely eradicated from India.
Some other earlier films to be granted entertainment tax exemption are Manoj Kumar‘s Shirdi Ke Sai Baba (1977) as it advocated communal harmony; Sunil Dutt‘s Dard Ka Rishta (1982) which highlighted the need for a cure for cancer and Raj Kapoor‘s Henna (1991) which spoke of the Indo-Pak brotherhood.
Speaking of present scenario Deepika Padukone‘s film Chhapaak has been made tax-free in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh. Directed by Meghna Gulzar, who is known for making thought-provoking films like Talvar and Raazi, Meghna Gulzar once again takes a serious subject of a real-life acid attack survivor Laxmi, who at the age of 15, was attacked by her jilted lover. How Laxmi went through the horrors of life and is still living life with courage forms the crux of the film.
Chhapaak is an inspirational film not only for ladies but for everyone as it hammers on the important issue to live life fully with determination despite all odds!!