Bollywood production house Yash Raj Films has announced a relief scheme under the ‘Yash Chopra Saathi Initiative,’ named after the founder filmmaker, to help daily wagers employed on movie sets. This would include ration kits to families of four and Rs. 5000 to accounts of women, and senior citizens.
With all film and television-related production coming to a standstill, daily wage earners in the industry such as spot boys, painters, dancers, make-up artistes and junior artistes have been hit hard again after the pandemic had devastated livelihoods last year.
Many of these workers are part of the migrant labour force that comes from India’s smallest towns in search of both skilled and unskilled jobs.
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 Rs. 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.
YRF sent a letter to urge the Maharastra Chief Minister, Uddhav Thackeray, to allow the company to purchase 30,000 COVID-19 vaccines and take care of all the expenses related to immunisation programme of these workers.