Debate of the week

Punch for a Punch

Written by Dipti Nagpaul D'souza | Published:April 26, 2013 6:35 am

The heads of Chennai’s Cine Association and the All-India body argue about the recent walkout by South Indian stunt artistes on the sets of Salman Khan’s Mental. We bring forth both sides of the story

Dharmesh Tiwari

President,All India Film Employees Confederation

There are six cinema employee associations in India — Film Employees Federation of South India (FEFSI),Andhra Pradesh Film Industry Employees Federation,Karnataka Film Workers Artistes Technicians Federation,Federation of Cine Technicians and Workers of Eastern India,Film Employees Federation of Kerala (FEFK) and Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE),which all fall under the umbrella of the parent body All India Film Employees Confederation (AIFEC).

There are times when filmmakers hire a department head from another regional industry or shoot in another state. Take for example,Dabangg, where action director Vijayan was hired by the makers of The Dirty Picture that was shot in Hyderabad. If the action director brings his entire crew from Chennai,then the Mumbai stunt artistes stand to lose jobs. Ditto when the makers bring their own favourites along then the Hyderabad talent stands to lose jobs. To resolve this issue,we had a meeting of all six associations in January this year. Everyone was in favour of passing a rule that allows department heads to hire 30 per cent of one’s own crew and hire 70 per cent locals. But members of FEFK and FEFSI were against the change and walked out of the meeting. In their absence and going by the majority,the rule was passed.

In case of Mental,the film’s action director Vijayan,from Chennai,demanded that his team comprise 50 per cent of his own men. We warned the makers that it would result in breaking AIFEC rules. Yet,we did not make a fuss when the makers and FWICE came to a common solution that they will hire as per the 70-30 rule where the two Mumbai members will not work on the sets but receive the pay from the producers. Vijayan can replace these two artistes with his own men on the sets.

VIJAYAN

Action Director and President,Film Employees’ Federation of South India

At the meeting of all cine employees associations in January,parent body,All India Film Employees Confederation (AIFEC) passed a rule without consensus from two state federations — FEFSI and FEFK. In fact,Karnataka Film Workers Artistes Technicians Federation too,wasn’t happy but complied with them. They intend to send a letter to AIFEC to change the rule back to allow hiring at a 50-50 ratio.

The reason is that ours is a high risk job where the cast and actors depend on us for their safety. Our teams usually comprise ten people. When an action director comes on board,he needs two assistants just to compose the fights,another two for safety procedures and one as a body double. That alone takes up five people,so complying with 70-30 rule is impossible for us.

Working with your own team members is comfortable,every team has its own lingo and regional departments heads also need to deal with language barrier. In case of a last moment emergency,such instant understanding and communication comes in handy. This is the reason we support the 50-50 rule.

The reason for the walkout has been to bring these aspects and our displeasure to light and to have AIFEC take notice. The walkout isn’t for Mental alone. FEFSI has called back all its artistes from across the country,working on films from outside of Chennai. Our decision is for everyone,not meant to harm Salman Khan’s film. Mental has come into focus because it is a big-budget film with a huge star in it.

As far as the reports about our protest demanding more money,those are completely false. Our demands are limited to the 50-50 hiring rule. We take responsibility for cast members’ lives and we cannot function in a less than ideal scenario.

(Debate conducted by Dipti Nagpaul-D’Souza)

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