Bollywood's illegal foreign imports?

Ad producers' association seeks Shiv Sena’s help to sort out work permits for its non-Indian staff

The Association of Advertising Producers of India (ASAP), a body consisting of 58 top advertising producers, recently sought the help of Shiv Sena’s cine-wing in a bid to sort out work permits for yes, you read it right foreigners they have employed in their projects.

A still from the film, O Teri, which features several foreign artistes
A still from the film, O Teri, which features several foreign artistes

On Tuesday, some members of ASAP met with Akshay Bardapurkar, general secretary of the Shiv Sena Chitrapat Sena (SSCS), to seek their help in pushing the government to expedite the work permit process for foreign artistes and technicians working in their projects.

Speaking to hitlist, Cyrus Pagdiwala, general secretary, ASAP, says, “We met with the union as we seek its help in approaching the Maharashtra government to ensure faster issuance of work permits for foreign technicians and artistes.

In the ad world, projects are finalised in a jiffy and often, we have to make a film within just 10 days. But getting a work permit for a foreigner takes at least 40 days. We are then forced to work without permits and then land in trouble for flouting the norms. Often, various unions extort money from us and this whole cycle needs to stop.”

Bardapurkar says that they wish to help the ad producers’ body. “But they cannot be naïve and say that they have no choice but to let foreigners work without permits. I asked them why they hire people illegally, and they were quick to pass the buck to the ad agencies.

I also know that this problem has attracted the ire of trade unions, who then extort anything between Rs2 to 5lakh from the ad producers,” he says, adding that cops and other law agencies turn a blind eye to such things.

Pagdiwala feels that foreigners should get work permits on arrival. “We don’t mind the government issuing a four-day permit, like it is done in other countries. We have approached several institutions — including the Foreigner Regional Registration Offices (FRRO) — but nobody is paying any attention to us. We now want to meet Uddhav Thackeray and discuss our problems with him.”

Bardapurkar, on the other hand, makes it a point to emphasise that Indian artistes continue to lose their jobs due to an increasing number of ‘foreigners working illegally in the country’. “We are concerned about Indian artistes losing their jobs. Also, some producers don’t even have basic details about the foreign nationals they hire; some of these foreigners are also into illicit activities such as prostitution and drug peddling. This can’t be allowed,” he says.

He further says, “We have found out that units of films such as Vashu Bhagnani’s Humshakals, Sajid Nadiadwala’s Kick, Atul Agnihotri’s O Teri and Shah Rukh Khan’s Happy New Year have illegally hired foreign artistes. These have been roped in to shoot many sequences at different locations, and their number ranges from 20 to 500 models.”

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