NFDC, established in 1975, has funded or coproduced 300 films, including such classics as Gandhi, Salaam Bombayand Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro. CFSI, set up in 1955, was based on an idea mooted by former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
Instead of these two organisations, the ministry wants one “macro body for cinema that will look at promoting Indian cinema, coproducing films, including for children, and will also take up archiving and documentation of Indian films — a mandate of Films Division that has been neglected till now,” one official said.
This follows cabinet secretary PK Sinha’s meeting with I&B ministry officials regarding a suggestion by government think tank Niti Aayog in 2015 to “merge operations” of similar units to improve efficiency. Niti Aayog had suggested a merger of the two bodies but the idea had been turned down by officials, citing possible operational constraints. I&B minister Smriti Irani, however, decided to review that decision in October and, after consultations with film makers and industry bodies, signed a cabinet note on the matter last week.
Irani held an initial meeting on setting up a new unified organisation at the International Film Festival of India, which took place in Goa in November, with filmmakers Nagesh Kukunoor, Shaji N Karun, Bharat Bala, Jahnu Barua and actor Vani Tripathi Tikoo.
Irani also consulted producer Siddhartha Roy Kapur, filmmaker Karan Johar and others. The ministry has approved the formation of a committee that will submit a final plan for an “inter-disciplinary macro organisation and determine the functionality of convergence of these bodies,” said one of the officials.
One official said the organisations were seen as sinecures and there appeared to be a lack of accountability.
“It’s apparent that these bodies were seen as places where supporters or people to be pleased can be appointed… Some of their chairpersons were found to be pushing their own agendas,” an official said.
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