Payment woes, alter 90-day pay structure, urge actors from the TV industry

Has the 90-day pay cycle on Indian television changed, after much debate last year since the pandemic struck? We talk to actors and producers to find out.
A representational pic of a shoot, actors Debina Bonnerjee and JD Majethia
A representational pic of a shoot, actors Debina Bonnerjee and JD Majethia
Published on Jun 13, 2021 09:48 PM IST
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ByRishabh Suri

The current pandemic has put a hold on shoots, similar to what happened in 2020. And in such a situation, everyone needs money in hand to tide over the bad times. However, the pay system on TV is something a lot of actors had voiced their opinion against last year.

90-days has been the timeline most actors get their pay after. And that is not feasible, especially in times where there is so much uncertainty. Have things changed over the past year? The industry at large says it is all still the same.

NO FINANCIAL SCHEMES APART FROM INSURANCE

Currently seen in the show Yeh Hai Chahatein, actor Aishwarya Sakhuja says, “What happens is established actors put a clause in their contract in the very beginning. Most production houses have been very kind to me. But for the rest, the 90 day pay period continues.”

In fact, amid a pandemic when everyone suffered losses, some production houses had requested actors to cut down on their fees as well.

Actor Debina Bonnerjee, who had shot for Aladdin last year, reasons, “The system is still the same, there’s been no change. Even for me, they were asking if we can do some more cut in the payment. I understand producers are also facing problems. But first of all, we are stepping out in the pandemic to shoot. On top of that, we are working with a cut, it doesn’t make sense.”

Aishwarya Sakhuja
Aishwarya Sakhuja

Apart from getting insurance, no other financial benefit schemes have been implemented for actors, adds Bonnerjee.

PRODUCERS CAN’T HELP IT

As he plays the devil’s advocate, in his own words, actor, CINTAA senior joint secretary & chairman, Outreach Committee, Amit Behl tells us the trickle down effect is taking place right now, which is why the pay system is still the same, despite some changes being made till some time back.

“It was followed before. We had a meeting with the broadcasters, they had decided to tweak. Now, it is very easy for me to say we need a cycle, as being an actor my pockets are also depleted right now. But advertising revenues have dropped by 80 percent. The manufacturer delays payment to the advertiser, it delays payment to broadcaster, it in turn delays for the producers and then to cast and crew,” he explains.

The 55-year-old adds that he even knows producers who gave advance payments to their actors keeping the pandemic in mind.

“People who have a serial on air after some time, how are they going to pay? Lead and semi-lead actors earn 16-17 lakhs per month, and if they want the payment immediately, how will they get it? 90 percent producers have cleared the payments to smaller actors whose payment didn’t amount to too much. No one expected a second wave, and then even the Indian Premiere League has been squashed,” says Behl.

However, according to JD Majethia, Chairman, TV division of IFTPC, some producers had indeed brought the payment cycle down. “A few broadcasters tried to alter their policies and tried to pay producers. I would say it’s not been continued, as last year, the policy was designed to address the pandemic,” he says.

ACTORS NEED TO SPEAK UP AND NOT BE SCARED

Actors Sharad Malhotra and Kratika Sengar both feel that the 90-day pay system needs to change. The former says is not “very apt person to comment on this” since he is an actor.

“The system needs to change by the people sitting above like the producers, the channels need to give it a thought. I am sure they have and are trying to work out a module which is flexible and not very hard on the actors,. Everyone has taken a hit. I hope they do something about it and understand what people are going through financially,” says Malhotra.

Sharad Malhotra
Sharad Malhotra

Sengar, who had shot until April in Delhi for a show, on her part says every actor has a different contract for a show.

“Someone’s contract says they will get the pay after 30 days, some 45, so it’s about the contract you make with the production house. I stand with those artists who get it after 90 days. There’s no other profession which does it, ki kaam abhi aur paisa teen mahine baad mil raha hai. But these artists also need to speak up because most of the times they have the insecurity that they won’t get work if they do it,” she explains.

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Friday, December 03, 2021