With the Mumbai film industry in shutdown due to the COVID – 19 outbreak, shoots have been stalled and releases pushed. It’s not just the big players who will be affected — Bollywood is a massive ecosystem, employing thousands in various unorganised sectors. From on-set caterers to junior artists to stuntmen and other daily wage workers, we bring you a series of short profiles of people who depend on the Hindi film industry for their livelihoods and how the lockdown is poised to affect their business.
Mohammad Shoeb, Gaffer, 25
It’s been 10 days since there has been no shoot. We have a WhatsApp group where we were informed that the industry will be shut from March 19. But even the ad film that was supposed to be shot on March 18 got cancelled.
A gaffer is responsible for setting up the light for the cinematographer. On an average I get Rs 3000-4000, but nothing is fixed, it depends on the budget. I have best boys working under me. The number of people working under me could be anything from 5 to 8—again, depending on the project. They get about Rs 1500-1800 per day.
I’m 25, not married yet, but I don’t have much savings. My elder brother, Mohammad Aves, is also a gaffer. I have been working for 5 years, my brother a lot more. We came to our village in Parbhani district in Maharashtra. Many of my colleagues have gone to their villages, and those who live in Mumbai are here. We are waiting to see if things get better from 31st.
We have heard about the Relief Fund for daily wage workers in Bollywood. Aves was telling me that the producers are apparently having a meeting among themselves. But we don’t know anything else about it.
As told to Sankhayan Ghosh