TV actors demand fair and timely pay system
After Rubina Dilaik revealed her plight of having to plead to producers for her dues, several other TV actors slam the current pay system, demanding a changeUpdated: May 25, 2019 11:22 IST
Television actors, who are often required to shoot for 16-18 hours in a day, reveals how the system of getting their pay cheques after 90 days after the first telecast of a show impacts their life as they end up struggling more for money or being dependent on their savings to pay rent, GST and other expenses. And when the show goes off air, their fight continues with the producers who at times hold their salary due to various reasons and then negotiate. Here are a few actors who share their plight and demands for a fair and timely pay system.
I hate this system of getting paid 90 days after the first telecast of a show. This period usually increases because the show also takes a month or more to set up. That means actors don’t get paid for more than four months. And once the show is over, we have to keep reminding the producers about our dues for the next three to four months. I remember I was told I would be paid right after the shoot gets over, but that never happened. First, the account department lost the invoice that I raised. After I submitted it again, I was informed the money hasn’t come from the channel and, later, they blamed the lack of funds. I had to give a dharna in front of their office and only after four months of struggle did they pay me. If I hadn’t behaved the way I did, I wouldn’t have gotten my money.
The reason that production houses give for paying an artist after 90 days is that they receive payment from the channel after a certain number of days. But lately, I’ve realised, it’s more like a tool to cut costs in case the show is wrapping up. You won’t be surprised that a production house refused to pay me for two months. I escalated the issue with the channel and their first reply was, ‘Yes, it often happens towards the end of a show’. It has become an accepted norm and a lot of people are okay with it, and that’s where a wrong precedent has been set. Actors don’t fight for their principles. I’ve worked with amazing producers, who have paid me on time, but there are some corrupt ones, too.
The 90-day credit period sometimes stretches to 100 days and more, and if the telecast of the show gets delayed, then there is a further delay with payments. It puts immense pressure and stress on actors. For the initial three to four months, I had to pay the GST from my own pocket and there are other dues that get impacted, too. Production houses don’t understand that this money is an actor’s livelihood, and we put in so much hard work and long hours to earn this. So, a shorter credit period is a fair and reasonable demand. In fact, a few regional industries have already implemented a monthly payment system.
Divyanka Tripathi Dahiya
The initial days of any TV show are extremely difficult for actors’ survival and we have to use our savings. It’s not an ideal cycle, especially for those just starting off their careers. In recent years, GST has added to our woes as we are paying taxes from our pocket even before we get our pay cheques. We deserve timely and fair pay. This may be the working style on television but if this situation continues, we may lose some quality actors to new mediums like the web.
I have faced a critical situation where money was withheld once the show was off air and I got my pay after many follow-ups. Also, as per government rules, the moment you raise the invoice, you have to pay three months’ GST back-to-back. When the payment is on the backlog of 90 days, it becomes difficult to survive. I strongly believe that the payment should be done on a 30-day basis.
For one of my previous shows, the payment was delayed and I had to follow up repeatedly. It wasn’t a good situation to be in. I don’t believe in waiving or settling the account by reducing the due amount. Sometimes, sudden expenses pop up, and it gets really difficult for us to manage them. When the crew gets paid monthly, why do actors have to wait for 90 days or sometimes 130 days? Industry genuinely needs to get organised when it comes to this issue.
There was a time when actors used to get their cheques as soon as the shoot was finished. But, ever since the era of daily soaps started, show makers began saying that because the channel gives them money three months after the show goes on air, they, too, will pay the artists after three months. The main leads don’t get affected as much after a period of time, but the ones who do smaller roles have to bear the brunt. It’s essential that a certain guarantee is given to these artists for their roles, as there have been times when the smaller characters’ tracks are discontinued overnight. It kills the morale of the actor.
When Gurmeet (Choudhary) and I were working on Ramayan, we became very popular. We had been paying ₹12,000 as rent for our apartment and the agreement was coming to an end. Looking at our popularity, the landlady raised the rent to ₹25,000. She said ‘you have become so popular, you can afford to pay this’. It was difficult to explain to her that our payment comes after three months. So, I had to leave the flat overnight.
Author tweets @sangeeta_yadavv
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First Published: May 25, 2019 11:22 IST