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Peanuts for performance

The organisers of the Commonwealth Games opened their purse generously to hire Bollywood stars (A.R. Rahman took home Rs 5 crore) and technicians and expensive props like the Aerostat for Rs 70 crore.

delhi Updated: Oct 07, 2010 00:32 IST
Avishek G Dastidar

The organisers of the Commonwealth Games opened their purse generously to hire Bollywood stars (A.R. Rahman took home Rs 5 crore) and technicians and expensive props like the Aerostat for Rs 70 crore.

But the drummers and folk performers, who formed the spectacular Rhythms of India and Celebrations segments of the ceremony, got only R1,000 for the evening.

Sources confirmed that a section of the performers had multiple tiffs with the organisers over payment during practice sessions at the Delhi Cantonment.

“We were told that the OC was following a government-controlled rate for folk artistes. Why did they have to follow a regulated rate for us when they paid professional fees to big stars, technicians and consultants?” said a performer on condition of anonymity.

The OC paid these artistes around R450 per day as allowance for a month's practice — going by a rate fixed by the department of culture for participation at government events — and R1,000 for the show.
In total, around 3,000 performers had come from all the states.

What was worse was that many groups such as the team of 50 artistes from Ladakh had left home after a particularly devastating time following the recent floods.

Many artistes are also farmers, who are pressed for more money because they had left during the crucial sowing season after a delayed monsoon.

They had also argued that by joining the ceremonies team, they would be missing out on the annual income from festivals like Durga Puja, Ganesh Chaturthi and the likes at various states.

But nothing worked. And their ordeal is not over yet.
Even on Wednesday, a few groups remained stranded at the Army ground because no one had any clue about their return tickets.

When asked, Shovana Narayan, head of the ceremonies, preferred not to discuss remuneration of the performers.
She instead said, "I would not like to talk about all that, but we have given the performers a national stage. They have been admired by the world and we have taken care of them during their stay here."

The Organising Committee had a budget of R1,620 crore, excluding the cost of overlays.

"You all know what the budget for the ceremonies is. But what people do not understand is that the budget is not
for two ceremonies alone, but for all functions the OC ever held, the salaries of the staff, the procurements, etc.," Narayan said.

About the train tickets, Narayan said the Railways were helping the organising committee in securing train berths for the performers.