Exclusive! ‘Brahmastra’ and ‘Pathan’ set construction put on hold; 1000 workers hit – Times of India

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With Covid-19 guidelines and restrictions imposed again, the film industry is on the back foot again. And the departments that are most hit are daily wage workers of Bollywood. Film producers, who were planning big songs with more than a hundred dancers, have been forced to cancel their plans, resulting in the cancellation of almost all shoots that have more than 30 dancers. Zahid Shaikh of Cine Dancers Association (CDA), when contacted, said, “About 50 per cent of the workforce was back on sets but the government is asking the producers to avoid the crowd on the set. We are the first to get hit by this rule and as a result, several shoots have been cancelled.”

“There was a ‘Brahmastra‘ song that needed 300 dancers, there was a Rohit Shetty song for ‘Cirkus’, one song to be choreographed by Vaibhavi Merchant and there were quite a few outdoor shootings. Rehearsals of all the songs were done but now the shooting is cancelled. In the case of ‘Brahmastra’, first Ranbir Kapoor got Covid so we had to stop the work for 15 days and then Alia Bhatt got infected and now there’s a government mandate to not shoot big songs which is really unfortunate,” Shaikh added.

A dancer earns Rs 4500 per shift, but Shaikh says that they are ultimately daily wage workers which means no shoot, no money; and therefore it is scary again for members. This new lockdown will affect the dancers. He hopes for things to come under control by the month-end.

The junior artists are almost out of work now because of these new SOPs that have come into action once again. Raja, of the junior artists association, is a worried man. With only a couple of days gone by after the new lockdown, he has his members calling him for financial help. He said, “The last time around producers and other people helped us with ration and money but I don’t see it happening this time. We will wait for a while and if things don’t improve will definitely look at the producers to help my members.”

Recently, about 45 junior artists tested positive before the shoot of Akshay Kumar’s Ram Setu. Raja justifies most of them are asymptomatic and in-home quarantine and just in case anyone needs to be hospitalised they will have to send them to a government hospital.

The Junior Artists Association has a total strength of 3000 members including the Mahila Kalakar but due to Covid norms, most of the producers were hiring only about 50 to 60 artists in a shoot. Raja said, “Only about 500 members were getting work per day and that too each of them would get work alternately but with almost all shoots involving junior artiste put on hold, we are looking at difficult times for our members.”

Another daily wage department, the studio setting department, too has taken a beating with the big film set construction put on hold due to the new lockdown and restrictions of big shoots including songs, action and crowd scenes. Ashok Dubey, general secretary of FWICE said that fighters and studio setting departments too have hit badly. He informs that there were three big sets that were under construction including Pathan which was being built on the helipad of Film city that involved the shooting of John Abraham and Shah Rukh Khan. Then there was the Brahmastra set and Vikram Motwane’s Andolan Pictures’ set that was also under construction. Each set had about 250 members from the setting department working every day and the work was supposed to go on for a month but this new lockdown will hit their livelihood.”



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