COVID-19: Background dancers return to their hometowns due to lack of work
Dancers' association head says background dancers forced to return home, even as government discourages non-essential travel.
The suspension of shoots till March 31 has had a domino effect in Bollywood, with daily wage workers being hit the hardest. Even as the Producers' Guild and the Federation of Western Indian Cine Employees (FWICE) have come to their aid, many sections of the community are struggling to make ends meet — a case in point being the background dancers who, due to lack of work, are returning to their hometowns.
Zahid Shaikh, president, Cine Dancers' Association (CDA) that comprises 900 background dancers, says, "Shoots won't start anytime soon. We are grateful to the FWICE for providing groceries in such times." Though the government has restricted non-essential travel, he reveals, "Many dancers have left for their hometown because it is difficult to survive in Mumbai without work. They have to pay rent, electricity and mobile bills, and it is not easy to meet these demands [without the regular flow of income]. Some left without informing us, only dropping a message with their account details in it."
Revealing that the artistes take home Rs 4,500 for a 12-hour shift, Shaikh said that six songs were supposed to be shot between March 14 and the first week of April, thus providing a steady source of income to them. "We were to film a song for Brahmastra on March 26; it has now been pushed to April 6. We were also rehearsing for a track for Prithviraj [which got postponed]. Our last shoot was on March 13 with Vaibhavi Merchant." With no projects lined up, Shaikh is focusing on recovering the payments for their previous shoots.
Saroj Khan and Zahid Shaikh
When mid-day reached out to veteran choreographer and CDA brand ambassador Saroj Khan, she said, "I will try my best to help them out. Everybody in the film industry is suffering a huge loss, but it is great that FWICE has taken an initiative."
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