India’s Moves to Single Window Clearance System in January (Exclusive)

Manish Tewari introduces long-awaited shooting rule change

India's Moves Single Window Clearance System
Patrick Frater

GOA, India – India will introduce a simplified system for shooting domestic and international films as of Jan. 1.

The long-awaited rule change known as “Single Window Clearance” was revealed by Manish Tewari, India’s minister for information and broadcasting.

Currently, the process of getting multiple shooting permits from different departments is so labyrinthine that few foreign films shoot in India and many local movies lense overseas.

The single window will be operated through a website that lists all the permission requirements and then allows producers to process the application online.

This week, in a 16-page document that lobbied for regulatory simplification, the introduction of incentives and proactive promotion, accounting and consulting firm Ernst & Young described the lack of single window clearance as the “primary obstacle” facing the Indian film industry.

Speaking exclusively with Variety at the Film Bazaar in Goa, Tewari also revealed that the government is considering introducing financial incentives to attract international productions to India. Similar incentives would also be available to the domestic film industry.

“We have a robust film industry also, and it would be unfair to discriminate the local against the international,” Tewari said.

Tewari also said that the government is considering the creation of a unified film body along the lines of the British Film Institute. Currently, there are several Indian film bodies with fragmented authority, including the National Film Development Corporation, the Film Federation of India, the Directorate of Film Festivals, the Films Division, and the Children’s Film Society.

“It would obviously mean that we would marry both human and material resources which allows organizations to optimize and punch to their weight,” Tewari said.

However, these changes are subject to political headwinds. The government is serving the last six months of its current term, and further structural changes could be made only after a general election.

“Structural reform in the government information and communications space, which includes films, is long overdue. Unfortunately we are trying to live in the 21st century with 19th century structures,” Tewari said.

“As we go along, we will have to find a model whereby these organizations can become self-sustaining, if not revenue generating, at least revenue neutral,” Tewari said. The Minister struck a note of caution when he said that he was wary of creating a monolith if a single, unified film body was formed.