Anticipated India-U.K. treaty comes up short

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NEW DELHI, India -- Hopes were high when an India-U.K. co-production treaty was formally signed a year ago and announced on the London set of leading Bollywood director Vipul Amrutlal Shah's "London Dreams." A year later, however, observers here are wondering how the treaty has benefited Indian filmmakers.

For his part, Shah says that even before the treaty, "London Dreams" had qualified for tax credits (one of the benefits of the treaty) as per guidelines by Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs.

Among the conditions, the treaty also specifies that a project qualifies as a co-production if it includes "at least one U.K. co-producer and one Indian co-producer (with a combined maximum of four)" and that "each co-producer must contribute a minimum of 20% (up to a maximum of 80%) of the total production cost."

Announcing the treaty in October, U.K. government films minister Barbara Follett said: "Any Indian filmmaker who wants to collaborate with a British producer will find it more financially worthwhile. We can also offer a mature production infrastructure and share expertise between the two countries' film industries."

Shah -- who produced "London Dreams" via his Mumbai-based banner Blockbuster Entertainment -- feels that the prerequisite to have a U.K. co-producer "isn't really attractive for us because Indian producers have always managed to arrange their financing (and other needs) independently. More importantly, why should I share my IPR (intellectual property rights) and revenue rights with a co-producer and hence be in a long-term agreement that could be restrictive?"

Elsewhere, while U.K.-based Indian helmer Gurinder Chadha's "It's A Wonderful Afterlife" has received principal funding from the Indian Film Co. (TIFC), owned by leading Indian media group Network18, the film's production is being carried out by Chadha's London-based banner Bend It Films. While it could not be ascertained if this project qualifies under the treaty, "Afterlife" is essentially seen as a British production with funding from an Indian company (in addition to TIFC also being listed on London's Alternative Investment Market).
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