The Federation of Western Employees Cine Employees (FWICE), the apex body of all the television craft and trade associations, has been on the warfront. On 2 August, it announced that it would put the brakes on TV production from 15 August, if its demands for better wages, limited working hours and insurance cover for its members are not met.
Then yesterday, its secretary BN Tiwari bellowed that he was determined to have the strike even if the producers associations – the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association (IMPPA), The Film & Television Producers Guild of India, The Indian Film & Television Producers Council (IFTPC) and the Western Indian Film Producers’ Association (WIFPA) – agreed to the FWICE’s terms and signed on the dotted line.
Tellychakkar wanted to get an actor’s perspective on the glaring match that the FWICE is planning have with the producers. And we reached out to veteran, the highly respected Sudha Chandran who was quite vocal about her views on the fracas. Excerpts from an interview with her:
How do you feel when you see bodies like FWICE calling for such strikes?
To begin with, all the producers are under pressure of meeting deadlines. There is a lot of money at stake. At the end of the day we are into entertainment and we all know for sure that entertainment can never stop in this country. I think we need to put across a specific rule because this has been going on for a lot many years now. It is the same scenario for almost 10 years and no concrete solution has been achieved. It just takes a straightforward thought process, sitting down having a proper discussion about it and sorting things out once and for all. I think a strike should be the last step to be taken. All the technicians and actors are on a per day basis. Everyone has planned their lives in a particular manner, when something of this sort happens; it disrupts a way of life. It is disheartening when one technician and his family starve even for a day. It is because of such strikes many amongst us are being affected.
How do you think will it all end?
I don’t think it will end up being all gloomy and murky because both the federations are intelligent enough to know and understand this. I am a very positive person, I hope they sit across the table and arrive at a conclusion that is beneficial to one and all.
When we spoke to FWICE President Mr B.L.Tiwari, he hurled a lot of allegations against the producers; he also mentioned that the workers are not being insured, what do you have to say about that?
Since when did we have insurance in the film and TV industry? I am there in the industry for 30 years now; I was never insured for working in the industry. Why are they making an issue out of it now? Today, CINTAA is trying to affiliate with many hospitals, they are taking gradual steps. But it requires time to put a procedure in place. That time should be given. Shouting from rooftops is very easy; it is difficult to implement regulations that weren’t there in the first place.
THE FWICE president also spoke about the erratic working hours of the technicians, how far do you think that is true?
When we as actors used to go for outdoor schedules for films or TV and it used to be the last day of the shoot on the location, we had to work day and night to complete our parts as well. On a personal note, as an actor if it is the question of a film or a show that is scheduled to be telecast, it is my basic duty and responsibility to bail out my producer.
The FWICE has threatened to carry out the strike for two days even if their demands are met up with. Under such circumstances, the TV industry will approximately lose Rs 15 crores on a daily basis, what are your thoughts?
Exactly, it will be a blow of at least Rs 15 Crores to the TV industry everyday. And it will take a lot of time for the industry to recover from the losses. This would actually mean all the producers, technicians, actors will anyway again have to work round the clock for the next 10 days at a stretch to recover the losses. The strike would be baseless then because the intention with which the strike has been called for will not be met. On the contrary everyone will end up working for long hours yet again – a practice that is being targeted by these propagandists.