A few months back, Hollywood writers and actors took to protesting against financial compensation and working conditions that brought the production of several projects to a standstill. The strike was heavily covered worldwide, and naturally, most of us are now familiar with it. But do you know something eerily similar happened in 1986 when Bollywood went on strike.
According to a 2021 report by The Hindustan Times, almost the entire Bollywood went on a strike in 1986 to protest against the then Maharashtra government’s imposed heavy taxes on film tickets. Many renowned actors, including Dharmendra, Hema Malini, Dilip Kumar, Anil Kapoor, Jackie Shroff, Sanjay Dutt, Rajesh Khanna, Smita Patil, and many others, take to the Mumbai streets, with filmmakers, technicians, and crew members.
It is reported the actors were demanding the reduction of the State’s 177% surcharge on film tickets. They also called for the abolition of a 4% Government-imposed sales tax on the production of films. In addition to this, the strike addressed the industry’s growing concerns over piracy and called for active steps against it.
A Republic World report mentions that around 1,350 theatres at the time were closed, causing a loss of lakhs in taxes on an everyday basis. Besides, production of over 200 films was halted, thereby ceasing millions of investments, notes the report.
As the strike escalated, the industry received growing support from the film community nationwide. The growing agitation culminated in actors taking to the streets on October 21, 1986, to express their discontent. The actual footage from the march is still available online. Some actors also lent their voices, demanding justice –
Rajesh Khanna –
Sunil Dutt –
Dilip Kumar –
Eventually, an agreement was reached following six hours of negotiations between Mahrashtra’s then CM S.B. Chawan and Amitabh Bachchan and Sunil Dutt, who were parliament members at the time. A 1986 report by India Today claims the actors were cast as villains for prompting the industry’s action committee to cease the strike in exchange for unsatisfactory assurances.
The strike remains Bollywood’s most charged campaign to date.