Maharashtra government to fund Film City’s new look

March 20th, 2008 - 11:36 pm ICT by admin  

Mumbai, March 20 (IANS) A special package of Rs.100 million has been set aside by the Maharashtra government for the re-development of the Film City at Goregaon in northwest Mumbai. Finance Minister Jayant Patil made the announcement in the state budget presented to the state assembly Wednesday.

The amount will be spent for further refurbishing the Film City, now known as the Dadasaheb Phalke Chitranagari, which since it was established in 1977, has gone through much wear and tear.

The Chitranagari’s development work started as soon as the new management took over three years ago with Bhushan Gagrani, principal secretary culture, replacing Govind Swaroop as managing director.

“In the last three years - actually two and a half years, to be precise - we have retrieved the Chitranagari out of the red by showing profits. We have ploughed back the profits into the development work to give the Chitranagari a fresh look,” Film City joint managing director Sanjay Krishnaji Patil told IANS Thursday.

Patil, who looks after the day-to-day activities of the Chitranagari, revealed that though the revenue generation has increased considerably in the last three years, the management asked for financial help from the government to take the development work further.

“Since the Chitranagari is a part of the Maharashtra Film, Stage and Cultural Development Corporation, it is not entitled to get any grant. Yet, the government did give us Rs.5 crore (Rs.50 million) in 2007 and this year the budget has earmarked Rs.10 crore (Rs.100 million) for the Chitranagari’s development. This is what I have learnt, because the official intimation in this regard has not yet reached us,” Patil said.

The money, Patil said, would be utilized for adding more amenities to the existing infrastructure to provide filmmakers with all facilities they need during shoots.

A full-fledged railway station set, with trains parked outside, will be built this year. The management is negotiating with Air India to buy from it a few of its grounded aircrafts for an airport set to be built inside the complex.

Last year, the management had to stall the project of erecting more dams to maintain the water level of the natural lake inside the complex.

Construction of a theme park in collaboration with a Hollywood studio is also on the cards. Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh has personally taken interest in the project.

Last year, the management completed a major work of resurfacing 8 km of road network inside the Chitranagari.

Plans are also afoot to add to the 40 outdoor locations inside the complex.

Patil also disclosed that the management has already drawn up a blue print for constructing two new studios with state-of-the-art facilities. “But all these projects on hand will be completed in a phased manner,” he said.

The security of the Chitranagari, of course, is high on the management’s agenda.

For years now, the land adjacent to the complex has been encroached by slum dwellers. As the complex has no foolproof boundary walls, often some anti-social elements stray into the complex.

Moreover, as the city of Mumbai has expanded of late close to the Chitranagari, which was once a secluded place, there are a lot of squatters who have set up their shanties there, posing security threat to the stars shooting nearby.

The management has been asking the government to rehabilitate the slum dwellers and the squatters elsewhere to ensure safety of the movie units shooting in the Chitranagari.

“But this problem will remain unless we build the boundary walls. This is a major work we are going to undertake soon,” Patil informed.

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