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.
The interviewee, a 'Spot Dada', didn't want to be named
The job of a Spot is organising different things on a film set. There are Spots who are in charge of organising food; there are spots who will be looking after the vanity vans, you'll find 4-5 of them who will get water and tea on the sets. I am in charge of them, so I give them the instructions. If they need 10 boys for the shooting, I'll have 10 guys working under me. I organise the whole thing.
I get Rs 1600-1800 per day depending on the company. The people working under me may get Rs 200 less. But there's no guarantee that there will be work. If there is work you get money, if there is no work then you have to sit at home. We were supposed to go for an outdoor shoot but because of the Coronavirus even they had to come back. Many outdoor shoots like that have been cancelled. As a result, the daily wage earners like me are having a lot of problems.
I didn't even know about any Relief Fund, I'm getting to know about it from you. My thing is if producers are distributing money to daily wage earners then they should call them in their offices, take their card numbers and give them the money. There's no point giving it to the Unions, who often cheat us.
We are scared after hearing things about the virus, so sitting at home, watching TV. I have 3 kids. My family is dependent on me. Even in this situation I had to go 2 kg potatoes, for the children. Any help at this stage is appreciated.
As told to Sankhayan Ghosh