After start-up CEO attempts to normalise 18-hour workdays, makers of Sonakshi’s Nikita Roy and The Book of Darkness implement 5-day week to promote team’s well-being
Late last month, Shantanu Deshpande, founder-CEO of Bombay Shaving Company, was slammed online after he, in a LinkedIn post, advised freshers to work 18-hour days during the initial years of their career and “not to do random rona-dhona” about the relentless hours. The post led to a wide discussion on unhealthy practices and toxic work culture. Among other things, it also put the spotlight on the Indian film industry where a 12-hour shift is a given. More importantly, when a crew is racing against time, it’s not uncommon for the shift to extend to 14 or 16 hours. In an attempt to course-correct, debutant producers Nicky and Vicky Bhagnani have mandated that the cast and crew will work only 10 to 12-hour days on the set of their next, Nikita Roy and The Book of Darkness, which is currently being shot in the UK. While the shift hours align with that of the skilled worker category as per the UK laws, the producers have gone a step ahead to incorporate two-day weekends for the cast and crew.
Nicky and Vicky Bhagnani
The thriller is headlined by Sonakshi Sinha, with Paresh Rawal and Suhail Nayyar playing pivotal roles. The film, which marks the directorial debut of Kussh S Sinha, went on floors in Watford in late August. Though Hindi film sets usually practice a six-day work week on outdoor shoots, director Kussh and the producer brothers were certain about implementing a five-day week, encouraging their team to explore the English countryside over the weekends.
Vicky tells us that the attempt is to break away from the long workdays that is normalised in the film industry. “Old rules have to be rewritten to create work-life balance. A creative industry like ours needs time to rest and recuperate,” he says. Planning to the last detail has ensured that the past three weeks of shoot were a smooth run. “Right at the start, we decided that we will maintain strict 10 hours of working, never going above 12. [Some countries in] Europe have [tried] the four-day work rule. It’s hard to adopt that on shoot because certain locations are pre-booked, and work has to be completed on time.”
Nicky credits the work ethic to creative head Abhinav Kashyap, who is a mentor to Kussh and the Bhagnanis. “He has shown us the path to do the right thing. Also, our DoP [Anshul Chobey] and Kussh are on point with storyboarding.” He adds that the production team has kept actors and unit hands on a rotational basis. “Days-off are given to actors and crew members in such a way that work keeps rolling, and yet rest is not compromised.”