Covid-19 effect: Technicians and supporting actors rue not receiving timely help
While several actors and associations of the Indian film and TV world have come forward to extend a helping hand to industry workers amid the ongoing crisis, the lockdown has impacted many people who are still waiting for financial aid.Updated: May 24, 2020 20:53 IST
The Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown has affected every strata of the society, and the entertainment industry has taken a huge hit, with spot boys, make-up artistes, hair stylists, costume-wig-prop makers, technicians and even supporting actors in showbiz feeling the heat as they are struggling to make ends meet.
While many actors, filmmakers have extended support via Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) and Cine And TV Artistes’ Association (CINTAA), many allege they haven’t received any help yet.
Saraswati Gupta, a hairstylist who lives with her three children and husband, shares, “Whoever works in the industry needs to be a member of one of the associations. I’m also a member of hair and make-up association. Till now I have only received 20% of what was promised. Call par bus bolte hai mil jayega,” she says.
Her colleague, MK Naveen, wig-maker and make-up artiste has faced a similar experience: “Bus ek baar thoda ration mila tha. Pata nahi kab tak do bachche aur biwi ko khila paunga… Mere bahut pehchaan waalon ko kuch nahi mila.”
Hassan Sheikh, a technician, says he received Rs 3,000 from Salman Khan, but he’s worried about payments that are stuck. Prakash Tiwari, who’s into costume making, says it’s getting difficult for him to pay his staff as days are passing by. Pointing out that production designers and prop makers are in a bad condition, art director Sneha Bhandare adds, “Payments of many of these freelancers are stuck. With lockdown extension, we don’t know how will they survive.” she says.
Suniel Kasbe, AdHoc General Secretary, Costume, Make-Up Artists and Hairdresser Association, says, “We requested Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) general secretary Ashok Dubey to help, but nothing happened. They are supporting those who are on good terms with them. Once the lockdown ends, workers who haven’t got anything, will protest.”
While spot boy Shubham Singh shares the fear of losing out work if they protest, make-up artiste Prashant Kamle, questions, “Donations of around Rs 20 crore came to the federation. Who have they been distributed to? Some production houses donated ration for 4,000 people but the federation distributed to around 500 people and they clicked their picture just to show that they have distributed. No food coupons were distributed to my unit members. After the lockdown gets over, we’re going to ask the celebrity and the Federation where did all the donated funds go,” Kamle says.
Ashoke Pandit, chief advisor, FWICE, and president, Indian Film & Television Directors’ Association, explains there are 32 organisations with 500,00 members under FWICE. The association has written to all the organisations and messaged all members.“Among those 500,00, only 100,000 have requested support. We’ve asked for names, registered mobile numbers, account numbers, IFSC codes from all and started bank transfers. While Salman Khan has extended support directly to 25,000 workers, Yash Raj Films helped 3,000 of them. Apart from these people, we’ve have started sending money to others. We’ve also distributed ration and food coupons,” he says.
But what about those who haven’t received anything? Also is there a possibility of increasing the amount for a bigger family as compared to a nuclear one? “Some have shared wrong IFSC codes, incorrect spellings and phone numbers. There are others who have shared their details to different organisations and have received money twice or thrice. So we’re sorting these things out. Everyone will get help. As far as increasing money for bigger families are concerned, we’re yet to take a call,” he adds.
CINTAA senior joint secretary & chairman, Outreach Committee, Amit Behl, seconds Pandit regarding those sharing wrong IFSC code as that “halts the process”. He adds, “The condition of actors who do small roles are worse. We’ve put up requests on various online charitable websites and reached out to international broadcasters for help.”