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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

RTI comes to the rescue of harried film units

Viju B I TNN : Mumbai: Film units in the city can now look forward to shooting in public places without being harassed by the police and civic agencies which demand a bribe every time a shoot occurs in their jurisdiction. An online film portal filed a query under the Right to InformationAct, asking for details of the procedures involved in acquiring permission for shooting in public places in Mumbai. The Mumbai police commissionerate gave a detailed reply to the query, stating that a production unit can ask for the services of the police force on paying a fixed fee. “The services of an additional commissioner of police can be called upon by paying Rs 1,071 for a period of 12 hours. If the unit wants to use the service of a police inspector they need to pay Rs 900, and if they want to utilise the services of a constable they need to pay just Rs 371,’’ the RTI response said. Film producers and unit officials say that till date, they were not aware of their rights. “Instead we ended up paying lakhs of rupees to various government agencies, including the RTO, police department, and civic officials though we already had the permission for the shoot,’’ Dilip Bhanushali, director of film, who filed the RTI query said. The portal, which is into production of films and commercials, also assists film-makers in selecting locales and studios. Bhanushali knows many cases where film shoots came to a complete standstill after production managers had heated arguments with the local cops. In some cases, the cops even arrested the production manager. “We then have to pay massive bribes to get the shoot re-started,’’ Bhanushali said. Recently, a production company had to pay around Rs 2.5 lakh, while producing a commercial, to various government agencies even though they had taken prior permission for shooting the film. “Even the road transport officials extorted money from them and they had to pay up as they had an urgent deadline to meet,’’ Bhanushali said. Armed with the information, the film portal is now planning to approach the anti-corruption bureau if the officials still harass them for money. “The portal has used the RTI Act to good effect. More and more people should come forward to use the act to resolve their problems,’’ RTI activist Shailesh Gandhi said.
Publication: Times Of India Mumbai; Date:2007 Feb 27; Section:Times City; Page Number 7

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