Injured on sets of 'Bigg Boss', carpenter fights for his dues

The production house owes the daily wage labourer over Rs 1 lakh in compensatory wages after an accident on the sets of TV show Bigg Boss injured his spine last year

For the lakhs who tune into reality television show 'Bigg Boss', it's usually the underdog who emerges as a favourite. Behind the scenes, however, is an underdog nobody has heard of, who is struggling for his rights since he was injured on the show's set a year ago.

Tajuddin Jamadar, his wife and nine-year-old daughter have fallen on hard times since his injury on the sets of Bigg Boss left him unfit for work. No longer able to afford their own house, they had to move into a 4X4 room shared with his brother, sister-in-law and their three kids. A new season of the show is set to kick off, but Jamadar is yet to receive help. Pics/Rane Ashish
Tajuddin Jamadar, his wife and nine-year-old daughter have fallen on hard times since his injury on the sets of 'Bigg Boss' left him unfit for work. No longer able to afford their own house, they had to move into a 4X4 room shared with his brother, sister-in-law and their three kids. A new season of the show is set to kick off, but Jamadar is yet to receive help. Pics/Rane Ashish

Tajuddin Jamadar (32) was a carpenter and handyman working for daily wages on the set of 'Bigg Boss 8'. The Rs 556 he earned for every shift was barely keeping his family afloat, until September 13, 2014, when an accident at work injured his spine, leaving him unable to work.

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According to the law, Endemol, the entertainment company that produces 'Bigg Boss', is duty-bound to pay wages (for a shift per day) to Jamadar until he is declared fit to work again. However, the company is yet to pay the dues, which cross Rs 1 lakh.

"I got injured while working on the previous season of 'Bigg Boss' last year. A few other workers and I were carrying a big bench, which slipped and fell on me. Because of my injury, I can't work anymore. Doctors have told me not to lift heavy objects," Jamadar told mid-day, adding, "I was taken to a local hospital in Lonavla and was then shifted to Shushrusha Hospital in Dadar, where I was treated for 20 days. My treatment is still going on, but I am yet to receive my money."

"Until now, I have only been paid about Rs 49,000 in three months' wages. The company is supposed to give me over R1 lakh to cover my dues until August. I hope I will receive my money, so that I can bring my life back on track," he added.

Desperate times
Since the accident, Jamadar and his family have fallen on hard times. "He is unable to work and since he was the only breadwinner, they are now struggling to make ends meet. Doctors suggested that he undergo a surgery for better recovery, but they can't even afford that either," said a family member.

Jamadar, his wife and their nine-year-old daughter used to live in a room at a Dharavi chawl, but after they couldn't afford the rent, they have moved in with his brother. The three of them now live in a cramped 4X4 room with Jamadar's brother, sister-in-law and their three kids.

"Since my husband's injury, our only source of income has dried up. There were days when we had to sleep on an empty stomach. We cannot afford our daughter's school fees," said Jamadar's wife.

Help from union
From the day of the injury till August this year, the company owes a year's wages to Jamadar, but has cleared three months' worth so far. While the 32-year-old has had a hard time trying to get the attention of Endemol production house, he has the support of the Film Studio Setting & Allied Mazdoor Union.

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It was with the union's help that Jamadar was taken for another check-up at Mukund Hospital in Andheri this June, when the doctors advised he take rest as he was still unfit to work. The union has also written to Endemol AVP (Commercial) Dinesh Khetan, requesting that the company pay Jamadar his dues.

Gangeshwar Shrivastav, general secretary of the union, said, "We have been chasing the production house for some time. In fact, we also met a few officials regarding the issue, but we have received only promises. A couple of weeks ago, we visited the set and met Dinesh Khetan from Endemol. He promised us that the dues will be cleared, but that has not happened so far."

The other side
In a letter from Dinesh Khetan (AVP- Commercial) to the union dated June 12, 2015, he stated that Endemol had not received letters from the union. He added that the letters had instead been received by the art director and chief of Blue Lotus Productions, Omung Kumar Bhandula.

Further, the letter stated, "As per the contract between Endemol and Blue Lotus, Blue Lotus was responsible for all its contractors and sub-contractors. However, since you have received lukewarm response on the said matter, we shall try our best to try and resolve the matter for which we shall require the medical certificate of Shri Tajuddin Jamadar. Further, for the sake of clarity at our end, we would like to get Shri Tajuddin Jamadar checked by our doctor for which we require you to provide us his contact details."

However, when mid-day got in touch with Blue Lotus head, Bhandula (who was copied on the mail), he said, "They (Endemol) are the ones handling this case, not me." Endemol officials, including Khetan, remained unavailable for comment despite mid-day's repeated attempts to contact them.

Past injuries on sets
>> A lighting technician, Gautam Sangpriya, died on the sets of TV serial 'Chakravartin Ashoka Samrat' in April 2014.
>> While filming an action scene on the sets of 'Dabangg 2', three crewmembers were left injured due to a short circuit at Mehboob Studio in 2012.
>> In 2014, during the filming of Mohit Suri's film 'Ek Villain', a cameraman was hurt after a crane came crashing down on set.
>> Last year, a creative unit member fell from a height of 20 feet on the sets of TV show, 'Didi'.

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