Sunil dutt Yadav’s parents were so crazy about movies that they named him after the legendary actor. No surprises then that the 30-year-old from Chintahara village in Uttar Pradesh landed in Mumbai to be part of the movie business — as a carpenter’s assistant if nothing else. And the young man who builds dazzling mansions and crummy huts at Filmistan Studio had been polishing a dream of his own for months: rent a bigger apartment for his family this December.
Then something happened thousands of miles away from his cramped rented place in Mumbai’s Wadala neighbourhood. In the United States, the world of money began to collapse.
As its impact raced around the globe, work began to dry up for Yadav, whose last big job was on the sets of Subhash Ghai’s
Yuvvraaj. “For the last two months, there has been no work. Some of us have started driving autorickshaws,” says Yadav.
From dancers to junior artistes and dummy effects workers, the economic slowdown is affecting many of the 1.45 lakh workers of the 22 associations who provide labour to film productions. “The impact is widening. Production has slowed down, financers are hesitating, many are reviewing their budgets, distributors don’t want to put in money,” says Dinesh Chaturvedi, who heads the conglomerate of workers’ organisations.
“Earlier, if producers wanted to hire six people, now they hire four. And payments are not made for months,” says Lakshmi Prasad Baniya, 43, a union leaders.
All this has forced many workers to return home and work temporarily as farm labourers, says Ravindra Yadav, 38, who came to Mumbai from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh 18 years ago. “They will wait for our phone call. As soon as there is possibility of work, they will return,” he says.
A security guard in black hovers around. “At 11 o’clock he will shoo us all away. He does this everyday,” says Yadav. “This is our daily drill.”