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This Bollywood is struggling to survive!

By A GANESH NADAR
May 29, 2020 10:06 IST
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They earn a living in the shadows of Bollywood's glitz and glamour.
Today, the daily wage earners who oil the wheels of the movie business struggle to cope with the fallout of the lockdown.

Bollywood is one of the biggest film industries in the world. It employs millions of people and entertains billions.

If you walk onto the sets of any movie, you will see that is filled with people you will never see in front of the camera.

Their roles range from managing the lights, to getting the star a drink, to wielding a hammer to help build the set, to stitching the clothes.

From spots dadas to electricians to make-up artistes to bodyguards to junior artistes to sound technicians to dress dadas to people carrying props around or simply holding a mike, they keep the Bollywood movie machine running smoothly.

The lockdown has brought this once-thriving industry to a grinding halt. So how do those who depend on it for a living manage their daily expenses?

A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com brings you their story, in their words.

Dress dada Shashikant Sharma

Shashikant Sharma 'Shashi dada'
Occupation: Dress dada
Dress dadas give the artistes their costumes before a shoot and collect it back at the end of the day.

Our job is to give all the artistes their costumes for a particular shoot.

We collect them at the end of the day.

Costume designers design the costumes and give it to us. It is our responsibility to give it back to them.

I have doing this job for 16 years.

We are employed on a daily basis. When I am working, I earn Rs 3,200 per day. In a month, we can get anywhere between five to 20 days of work.

I am married with two school going kids. My wife takes care of our home.

Since the lockdown, I have been using my savings to take care of our expenses.

Once that is over, I will have to ask my family who live in my hometown for help.

I have worked with many stars.

One star transferred Rs 3,000. I heard he did this for 25,000 other workers as well. I cannot tell you his name as I don't think he will like that.

A make-up artiste I know gave me Rs 1,500.

I also got a coupon worth Rs 1,500 from Big Bazaar. It was given to us by our union and I can use it to buy goods at any Big Bazaar.

Our union is called the Cine Make-up Artistes and Hair Dressers Association.

 

Spot boy Pintu

Pintu (He doesn't give his full name and insists, in the industry, everyone knows him as Pintu.)
Occupation: Spot boy
Spot boys go with stars on shoots, where they provide them all help they need.

I have been in this industry for 13 years. Currently I am working with Bidita Bag (of Babumoshai Bandookbaaz fame).

I am paid between Rs 2,500 to Rs 3,000 a day. I get work for 15 to 20 days a month.

I have worked with (National Award winning actress) Usha Jadhav.

I worked with Aishwarya Rai for three days when she was shooting for Jazbaa. Her personal spot boy was not available for those three days.

Tiger Shroff, Bidita Bag, Sonnalli Seygall, Diana Penty and Mrunal Thakur have helped me during the lockdown.

Chunky Panday, Tabu and Vicky Kaushal have promised to help.

Vidya Balan told me to go to my union office since she had already contributed there; I will go when I need the money.

Many spot boys have left for their villages.

I am not married.

I stay in Andheri (north west Mumbai). We cannot leave the house. I cook my own food.

I hope this lockdown ends soon and I can go back to work.

Make-up artiste and hair stylist Ashish Moitra

Ashish Moitra
Occupation: Make-up artiste and hair stylist

I have been in the industry for six years.

My charges range between Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 per day depending on the work.

I give my regulars a discount so they keep coming back.

I average 20 to 22 days work a month.

I do films, Web series, television serials, advertising, fashion... I work across all fields, wherever work is available.

During the lockdown, work has come to a standstill.

I was supposed to go on the sets with Bidita Bag on March 15 for a 35-day schedule.

After April 20, I had two photo shoot appointments for a catalogue.

Everything has been cancelled. Nobody is even talking about work. It is a time of great uncertainty.

Nobody has spoken about our industry.

Within the film industry, people are trying to help those who don't have high salaries. They assume make-up artistes are okay.

I am now dependent on my savings.

I know a hair dresser who earns Rs 60,000 a month. She has not been paid for the last two months. When she asked them, they said, 'We will look into it.'

The biggest question is: When are we going back to work? Shootings might begin in September. During the monsoons, we cannot work outdoors.

We are all freelancers. We get paid after three months.

Twice, I have not been paid my last installments.

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A GANESH NADAR / Rediff.com
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