A reply to a Right to Information (RTI) query has revealed serious lapses in the constitution of committees tasked with selecting Kannada films for the State Government’s subsidy and awards.

According to the RTI reply obtained by a senior Kannada director, the Commissioner of the Information Department forwarded a recommendation on October 6, 2023, to the Secretary to the Government for setting up committees to select quality films for subsidies for the years 2019, 2020, and 2021. However, by an order dated January 30, the Government constituted committees for four years, including 2022, even without a recommendation. Disregarding the persons recommended by the Department, the Government included other individuals in the various committees.

Puzzlingly, the RTI reply reveals that neither the Information Department nor the Government has any information about the qualifications of the selected members. The Kannada Film Policy 2011 specifies that the Committee should consist of ‘experts’ from the fields of movies, music, art, literature, and film journalism. No background check on any of the selected members was conducted.

Similarly, based on the Department’s recommendations, three committees to select films for the State Film Awards were constituted by the Government on January 30, 2023. Once again, the names recommended were changed by the Government. Both the Department and the Government had no information on the members they selected to verify whether they were ‘experts’ in the field.

The Government announced the formation of seven committees: four for selecting 125 films each for subsidies for the years 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022, and three committees for selecting the various Karnataka State Film Awards for the years 2019, 2020, and 2021. Several film industry personalities and film journalists are part of these committees. The committees were set to watch the films for selection in the next couple of days, and the exercise is expected to last at least three months.

The Kannada State Film Awards and the subsidies provided to ‘quality’ Kannada films have been mired in controversy and allegations of corruption and favoritism for years. Post-2018, awards and subsidies for the subsequent years have not been presented. Several filmmakers approached the courts, making allegations against the committee members and the selection process, accusing rampant corruption, leading to the scuttling of the process multiple times.

The previous Siddaramaiah Government had announced the annual State Film Awards event would be held on April 24 every year on the birthday of Dr. Rajkumar, but this promise was not kept even a single year.

Some film personalities have even called for the State Government to stop providing subsidies to films. With the advent of digital filmmaking, many films are made on shoe-string budgets of Rs. 3 to Rs. 5 lakhs, hoping to make a windfall out of the Rs. 10 lakh subsidy provided by the Government. From 50 films initially, the government has increased the subsidy to 125 films and subsequently to 150 films every year. The pressure of filmmakers hoping to obtain subsidies is said to be the reason the Government formed seven committees in one go.

There have been instances of committee members caught receiving bribes to select films for subsidies and awards.



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