Turf war erupts over UP CM's bid to woo movie moguls

When Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath called on movie moguls in Mumbai on Tuesday, it sparked a heated turf war over Bollywood.

Mr Adityanath's sales pitch, inviting Bollywood personalities to move to the "country's biggest and most beautiful film city" in Uttar Pradesh's Gautam Buddh Nagar, irked Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and the ruling Shiv Sena no end.

Mr Adityanath met a number of film personalities in Mumbai, including actor Akshay Kumar and directors Subhash Ghai and Boney Kapoor.

He wants Bollywood stars and producers to invest and shoot in his state and offered them all facilities to shift focus from Mumbai to Uttar Pradesh.

Addressing a press conference in Mumbai, he said the film city in Uttar Pradesh has the best connectivity to Lucknow, Vrindavan and Mathura - locations where numerous Bollywood films are shot.

The new film city will be built on a 1,000-acre plot, 6km from the proposed Noida international greenfield airport in Jewar.

"Members of the film fraternity have shown interest (in the proposal). This is a good sign. I thank all of them," he said. "We have not come to take away something. We are creating a new thing, providing world-class infrastructure.

"It is an open competition and the state which provides the best infrastructure, social security and suitable atmosphere will attract film-makers."

An enraged Mr Thackeray reacted by saying no one could take away anything from Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra.

Speaking to industrialists in an online meeting, Mr Thackeray said that Maharashtra is not "jealous" of other states. "Let there be a race," he said. "If you want to move forward, do so. But, if somebody is trying snatch away something from here, I will not allow that to happen."

Shiv Sena Member of Parliament Sanjay Raut said rather theatrically: "Mumbai is Mumbai. How can they take away Mumbai's geography? UP CM Adityanath has met some Bollywood actors. But can anyone move the film city from here?

"It is not easy to move the film city out of Mumbai. Attempts have been made earlier also, but how will you recreate the atmosphere of Mumbai in UP and Bihar?"

The Sena's possessive stance is not surprising as the Indian film industry, pegged at Rs191 billion ($34.6 billion) and which grew by 10 per cent last year, is a major contributor to Mumbai's economy. Domestic film revenues crossed Rs115 billion with gross box-office collections for Hindi films at Rs49.5 billion.

Bollywood critic Soumitra Pote said: "It is natural that the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister feels that the film industry should come to his state. There will be competition between UP and Maharashtra to attract the film industry and the industry is going to benefit out of this.

"But one must not forget that for 100 years Mumbai has nourished film culture and tackled all challenges including the underworld. Also, Maharashtra has given liberty to film-makers. Would UP provide that space?"

Maharashtra's Bharatiya Janata Party (UP) leaders were cautious in their comments as Mr Adityanath's move would put them in a tight spot in the state.

Mr Adityanath belongs to the BJP, which rules Uttar Pradesh.

"Yogiji may have come here to study the film city and facilities being provided to the industry, but nobody can take the film city and its glamour away from Mumbai," said Maharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil.

Indo-Asian News Service

 
 
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