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|February 22, 2001||
Customs officer discovers duty
Mumbai Customs has earned the ire of the film industry, and not without good reason.
At least three producers, returning after foreign shooting stints, found themselves forced to pay duty on exposed film rolls.
Which came as a bit of a surprise -- directors have been shooting abroad for years, without facing this liability. Until, recently, some officer in the department dug out an obscure provision in the law books, by which duty could be imposed on exposed raw stock!
Thanks to that officer, Vashu Bhagnani, Boney Kapoor and Ketan Desai, all returning from shooting stints in New Zealand, found themselves having to fork out. Bhagnani had to shell out Rs 1 lakh for his film Mujhe Kuch Kehna Hai, Kapoor paid one lakh when the unit of his Koi Mere Dil Se Poochhe landed in India on February 19, and Desai was asked to fork out Rs 3.84 lakhs.
Strangely, those retuning from abroad, and landing in Chennai or New Delhi, do not have to pay such duty.
"The commissioner of customs, Mr Yuvaraj Gupta, seems to be a very helpful person," says Boney Kapoor, after duly forking out. "I've never seen a more receptive person at that level. He heard me out and explained to me that there was definitely a gray area. He then promised to take up the matter himself, and told us that we, the film industry, should also pursue the matter simultaneously."
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