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Most people on a film or TV set are recruited for individual projects for a limited shooting period of 70-80 days.
Most people on a film or TV set are recruited for individual projects for a limited shooting period of 70-80 days.

Film, TV bodies go extra mile for daily wagers

Relief funds have been set up for film and TV set workers, many of whom are part of the migrant labour force

With all film and television-related production coming to a standstill, several film employees’ associations, studios and stars have come to the rescue of daily wage earners in the industry such as spot boys, painters, dancers, make-up artistes and junior artistes.

Relief funds have been set up for these workers, many of whom are part of the migrant labour force that comes from India’s smallest towns in search of both skilled and unskilled jobs.

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown last week, many of these migrants across sectors sought to return home and quite a few started to undertake the journey on foot as all bus and train services were cancelled.

“We are absolutely okay if they want to go back and are trying to help them in whatever way we can," said producer J.D. Majethia of Hats Off Productions and chairman of the Indian Film and TV Producers Council, which is in talks with broadcasters, actors and others within the industry on how to pool in resources and figure out a distribution system to make them available to workers who, in turn, also need to be made aware that they can approach their producer employers to seek help.

“We are a fragile and vulnerable industry and those of us who can should make sure they share their privileges," Majethia said.

Lyricist Javed Akhtar-led Indian Performing Right Society has declared an emergency relief package for around 3,150 authors and music composer members across various geographies to meet their basic needs for the next three weeks.

Film and television industry experts emphasize that apart from the core team of a production house that includes accountants and senior marketing executives, most people on a set tend to be recruited for individual projects for a limited shooting period of 70-80 days. These include professionals such as directors, writers, actors and camera personnel, who are obviously highly paid, but also other workers like spot boys, light men, make-up artistes, painters, carpenters and art department staff, who are paid on a monthly basis and may not make over 30,000 a month.

However, their jobs are critical and often involve handling costly equipment such as lights, which require skill that they acquire after months of training under a supervisor. The list may include junior artistes or small-time actors, who are required only for a couple of days on a project.

In a circular, the Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) said it was working towards the relief and rehabilitation of members engaged in various crafts. FWICE is the umbrella organization for 32 film craft departments and has more than 500,000 members.

“The Producers Guild has decided to set up a relief fund to help support those most affected by this shutdown. We would encourage the entire fraternity to contribute to the fund to ensure that we can do all we can to minimize the disruption in the lives of our valued colleagues and associates," Siddharth Roy Kapur, president of the Producers Guild of India, said in a statement.

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