Covid lockdown effect: Pay cut in the TV industry but is it fair? JD Majethia, Dheeraj Dhoopar, Sharad Malhotra and others share their views
As the business on the small screen is slowly coming back to normalcy with shoots of many TV shows resuming, there are several measures being taken to minimize further financial stress, including pay cuts for actors.Updated: Jul 11, 2020 19:05 IST
Every industry in the country is reeling under the financial strain amid this Covid-19 crisis and the subsequent lockdown which was imposed, including the TV industry. As the business on the small screen is slowly coming back to normalcy with shoots of many TV shows resuming, there are several measures being taken to minimize further financial stress, including pay cuts for actors.
“Of course pay cuts will happen and it has already started in the TV industry. Our industry is largely dependent on advertisement revenue. Everything is hierarchical in TV – advertisers to broadcaster, broadcasters to producers, producers to artistes and technicians,” says producer JD Majethia.
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Actor Dheeraj Dhoopar, who has resumed the shoot of his show Kundali Bhagya, while he admits that these are indeed very challenging financially for everyone but the show must go on.
“No one is taking advantage of these difficult times. There will be losses for sure and we should be good to each other, help each other. But pay cuts should be done mutually. No one should be pressurized to do so. Reaching this position took me years and I do understand I deserve something. But I also know I am also aware of the difficult time,” he explains.
Actor Sharad Malhotra feels that it is absolutely fair for everybody to come together -- producers, actors, channels. “It’s a global meltdown of economy. In such a scenario, you can’t ask only the actors to reduce their fees, by say, 20 percent. That is unfair, obviously everyone happens to bear the brunt. We all are facing a blow. Personally, people who are offering me shows are telling me ‘sir, abhi problem hai’. I tell them I am ready to co-operate. It’s our duty as actors to understand. We knows we actors have a certain price, but we have to adjust, if producer is also facing a problem. If we stand with them today, they will stand with us tomorrow,” he says.
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While actors are not averse to the pay cut scenario, Zaan Khan,who is still awaiting pay for his last show, Hamari Bahu Silk, feels that it should be fair and people who already earn way lesser than others should be spared.
“My friend who is also an actor was working on Rs 6000 per day before and now post pay cut, it has come down to Rs 3000. Then he has to give 10% in TDS and pay 20 % to his coordinator, so what’s left with him? Do pay cuts par salary dekh le karo. Someone who is s earning Rs10,000 in a month, then where will he go after pay cuts? This will lead to depression,” he says adding that someone who earns Rs 1 lakh per day, can afford a bigger cut not everyone else.
Actor Deven Bhojani, who has started shooting his show Bhakarwadi, says that the pay cuts will happens across board and not just for actors.
“Even directors and technicians will have to take a cut. These are unforeseen circumstances and we will have to adapt accordingly. There will be pay cuts for 33 percent of people. The channels and producers are in talks and they are trying to find a middle ground because everyone is suffering,” says Bhojani.
So how will the pay cuts be determined and how much of an actor’s price will be deducted? Majethia feels that there are a number of things at play in order to determine that.
“It will depend on the quality of program. It will vary from show to show and artiste to artiste. Pay cuts will happen mostly in the higher category, jinka bahut kam hai they may not have to go through the pay cut scenario. On the whole industry can look at approximately 15 to 25 percent,” he says.
Binaifer Kohli, the producer of the show, Bhabhiji Ghar Par Hai!, which has resumed shooting, feels that all sensible actors will agree to the pay cut process as she feels this is the only way to provide stability to the TV industry.
“Otherwise we will have to shut down and my team is very sensible about it. However, there is no fixed percentage as such. There may be somebody who will not agree because their argument will be that they are the face of the show. They have to understand that when the show did well, they were given raises so now this also is valid. But if they don’t agree, we can replace them. I think all big actors should take price cut,” she says.
So how many actors will be willing to get on board with pay cuts? Actor Hunar Hale says that there is pay instability already in the industry and now pay cuts are making it worse.
“Despite working for 10 years, my counterparts get more than me. Now there will be constraints with budget which means will be getting paid way lesser than what we were getting paid before he lockdown. Anyway when you are going out and shooting, you are putting your life at risk. And now the pay is less, there is just too much at stake. Also as actors you maintain a certain lifestyle, will you be able to sustain that life with pay cut?,” she asks.