No hit benefit for film technicians and crew

Published: Dec 01, 2011, 08:47 IST | Hiren Kotwani and Divya Unny |

After a hit or two, a star always ups his or her price, but it never reflects in the pay checks of other crew members of the film

After a hit or two, a star always ups his or her price, but it never reflects in the pay checks of other crew members of the film

Every time a movie becomes a hit, it almost guarantees a hike in the fees of the star and to some extent, of also the director.

These days, the trade is abuzz with the talk of Vidya Balan asking for more money to sign a film based on the huge hype generated by The Dirty Picture, where she plays the protagonist reportedly modelled on Silk Smitha.
Not to be left behind is her co-star Emraan Hashmi, who's now reported to be asking for Rs 7 crore per movie. And there's no forgetting Kareena Kapoor, who's the first actress to be paid a share of the profits from Heroine, besides a reported stipulated fee of over Rs 6 crore.

Never mind if filmmaking is a team effort. "With most top directors also being partners in production, they have a share in the profits, apart from being paid their remuneration to make the movie," points out a trade veteran.

Strangely, it's the other specialised technicians who also work hard and contribute to making the film a hit, who don't exactly reap the benefits.

Like the writers, cinematographers, editors, music composers, production designers, choreographers, action directors, sound designers and others who can't hike their fee after a hit or whose remunerations don't exactly indicate the number of hit films they have been a part of.

As Namrata Rao, editor on Dibakar Bannerjee's acclaimed successes like Khosla Ka Ghosla and Love Sex and Dhokha tells us, "Unless there's a big award win, in which case the fees might go up marginally."

However, it also depends on the budget of the movie. "For a big budget film, the crew is paid accordingly. Also, there are certain directors, with whom we work on relationship basis, and the money doesn't really matter as much as the work," she says.

Cinematographer Mahesh Aney, who shot Ashutosh Gowariker's Swades with Shah Rukh Khan, says that while the budgets of films might be soaring, it's not reflected in the technicians' fees.

"What I used to charge three years ago, I can't charge that today because the discrepancy has gone up," says the director of photography, adding that internationally he could charge one percent of the production cost.

One of Bollywood's highest paid stars, Akshay Kumar
on the sets of Rowdy Rathore

"But here that is considered too much. The people benefiting from a hit are very few and they are not the technicians," he rues. Another specialist who can't reap the benefits of a film's hit status is the action director. 

Abbas Ali Moghul, who's coordinated the thrills for films like Lagaan, Sarfarosh, Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai and the forthcoming Agneepath with Hrithik Roshan, accepts that the actor brings in the audience.

"So their price will automatically up after a hit. But for us, the competition is too tough. If I ask for more money, then the producer will go to someone else. So we think, 'why demand more?'" he shrugs.

However, there are exceptions in this domain, says Abbas, adding that those who are in demand are getting what they ask for.

"Whoever is the action director of Wanted, Dabangg and Bodyguard has a higher demand. So he'll get what he quotes," he states, pointing out that the demand for technicians in Mumbai is even lesser than in Chennai.
"In Chennai, the action director will get 40 days, while in Mumbai one has to make do with 10 days," he sums up. Veteran distributor Ramesh Sippy asserts that good technicians are always in demand.

"A director of photography may not get instant credit, but ultimately he can do a good job if the director gives him apt locations and great sets," he points out. Fortunately for some specialised forces in filmmaking, they get the fees they demand.
Like production designer Nitin Desai, who has built sets for epics like Lagaan, Swades, Jodhaa-Akbar and the Munnabhai series.

Admitting that those who can afford him, approach him, he says, "There is no discrepancy here. While a lot of things change in Bollywood with the brand building, money doesn't go up with every film."

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