TV actors fall prey to financial crisis amid lockdown, threaten suicide

That Covid-19 crisis has hit several industries is now a fact largely known. But, with TV actors and technicians, in particular, crying foul over non-payment of dues, it has raised an alarm
The cast and crew of TV show Hamari Bahu Silk have revealed that they have not been paid for the last one year
The cast and crew of TV show Hamari Bahu Silk have revealed that they have not been paid for the last one year
Updated on May 18, 2020 07:59 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByJuhi Chakraborty

That Covid-19 crisis has hit several industries is now a fact largely known. But, with TV actors and technicians, in particular, crying foul over non-payment of dues, it has raised an alarm. TV actor, Manmeet Grewal of Aadat Se Majboor fame, committed suicide at his Mumbai residence on May 15 due to financial stress and lack of work. 

On May 17, several artistes of TV show Hamari Bahu Silk have revealed not receiving their payments for the last one year, and how survival has become tough during these trying times. Furthermore, in a video post on Instagram, they even hinted at taking a “drastic step in such distress” if their plea goes unheard.

“I know my reputation might be scarred and I might not get work after this, but I don’t care,” says show’s lead actor, Zaan Khan, on why it was time to stand up and raise his voice “against this corruption”.

He further reveals, “Technicians from my show are calling me and crying that they’ve just Rs 200 in their pockets and truck drivers are charging Rs 2000 to take them home. How can one be so inhuman at this time. Hum apna haq maang rahe hain ehsaan nahi.” 

Actor Rajesh Kumar, who was a part of show, has the same story to tell as he shares that even though he only shot for a short period, his dues are still pending. 

“There’s no response from the producers on the payment. They don’t take calls or reply to messages, what should we do? So, these are the people forcing us to take such steps, like suicide. And now there’ll something, some new case. People like Jyoti Gupta (producer of the show) should be answerable, and responsible for playing with lives. They should be barred from industry. Inko sharam kyu nahi aati?” asks Kumar.

Calling the TV industry shameless, actor and general secretary of Cine And TV Artiste’s Association (CINTAA), Sushant Singh says that 90 percent of the producers and broadcaster keep passing the buck when it comes to payments.

“The minimum time to clear the dues is 90 days but this goes on for months, even years. We’ve been telling this to the state government, the central labour ministry, but to no avail. We’ve been fighting cases on behalf of these actors, but in this situation, it’s a clear case of cheating, you make them work and not pay,” he rues.

TV producers say that even they’re under a lot of financial stress and aren’t getting any money from channels due to the lockdown and stalling of shoots. 

Producer Binaifer Kohli asserts, “I understand actors’ concern but suicide isn’t the answer. You reach out for help and even with little help, you can survive for a few days. I’ve been regularly asking smaller actors and technicians if they need anything. When people tell me when they have loans, I release their money faster.”

However, she admits that there are some producers who’re taking advantage of the situation. “Some cheap people are holding people’s blood money. You can’t do that,” Kohli retorts. 

Actor Shama Sikander, who has battled depression in the past, feels that people should try and not lose focus, and seek help. “Some people are going through genuine crisis, so they need to share their problems. When I was in depression, I used to over think a lot, too which is not good,” she shares.

Sharing a word of advice, Dr Pulkit Sharma, clinical psychologist, feels that some people need to calm down. “Under such tough circumstances, find something that gives a new meaning to your life beyond work. If you keep thinking about how you’re having a meaningless existence, it’ll make you sad and depressed,” he says.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2022