Sexual harassment or exploitation is well spoken about in the Bollywood industry especially after the wake of #MeToo that started recently. However, taking the advantage of being an unorganised sector, the film industry sets aside to peep into the financial exploitation taking place to the junior artists and strugglers every day.
Many advertisements are being published for the requirement of models, actors, spot boys, dancers for films, and TV serials, both male and female adults as well children that promises for a compensation of Rs 500 – Rs 2,500 per day without any need of artist card. Nonetheless, there are various instances that have taken place with the newcomers wherein they are assured to pay a particular amount on daily basis but in the end are milked and provided with less than half of the committed wages. As the film industry is an unorganised sector and there are no written agreements signed by the parties, the filmmakers take due advantage of the strugglers and junior artists who are in a dire need of work.
The junior artists supplying agencies also seize an opportunity for capital gains for acting as a chain between the filmmakers and artists. The popular filmmakers who have their policies never refrain from paying the assured compensation but the middleman or the agent usually plays the role of the exploiter being the link to those newcomers from a non-industry background and seals the pact in an unbalanced ratio that benefits the agent more. However, many agents in the name of industry service get the strugglers and newcomers hitched in the prostitution.
Junior artist Jhilik Pal shared her experience with AV. She said, “Before coming into the Hindi television industry, I was working as a junior artist in the South movies. What I experienced in both the industries is that the middlemen (agents) don’t allow us to make a direct contact with the producers, neither we get to know the exact amount that the producers are paying us as we always get the payment from the middleman. It is not the truth when people say that the industry has minimum opportunities for the outsiders like us, financial exploitation by these middlemen becomes a barrier to fulfil our dreams.”
In order to deal with the #MeToo situation that created a hype in the last few months, the Producers Guild of India took initiative to issue an official statement on October 17 in support of the movement. While making it compulsory for all the members to sign a declaration affirming that laws around sexual harassment of women at workplaces are implemented, the association has promised to ensure strict action against proven sex offenders. Although there has never been any public disclosure regarding the measures taken by the regulatory body to curb the financial exploitation which is also a crucial case of concern. Now after the exposure of various incidents of financial exploitation, will they take any steps ahead to control the same?
Afternoon Voice is awaiting Cine & TV Artists Association’s (CINTAA) take on the matter. We will update our readers on the same once we receive their reply.
In a few instances, where the strugglers are in a desperate need of work due to unemployment and difficulty faced to enter the industry without any support, tend to fall into the trap to work without any remuneration just to open their gates for more work in the future.
When AV tried to contact casting agencies from the city, while few remained unavailable, others denied any reports on exploitation, and the rest restrained from commenting anything on the matter.