“These are bad times, but they will pass, and all of us will be on sets again,” remarks film photographer Ashok Variava, who has worked in the industry for over 30 years. The 65-year-old tells indianexpress.com, “This time, things will be different. Maybe we will have fewer technicians on sets. We will have to maintain distance from one another, wear masks, ensure sanitation facilities on sets for all the workers, not only for the stars.”
As general secretary of the Bollywood Photographer Association, he is aware of the struggle 600-odd colleagues are facing amid the coronavirus-induced lockdown. “We always believed that Bollywood can never come to a stop, because of the amount of work that happens on a daily basis,” he says.
They have received support, he informs, including from Federation of Western Indian Cine Employees (FWICE). “Since our union is affiliated to FWICE, we have managed to get help. Salman Khan had sent money to many of us, directly into our bank accounts. All of us received ration coupons from Amitabh Bachchan ji.”
As lockdown eases, they hope for work to resume, albeit slowly. “We are hopeful. Not all shoots will happen at one go. Even when work starts, only a few of us will get work initially. It is going to be a long journey. But we are together in this and are working on a plan where more photographers get work, rather than only a few.”
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Ashok Variava, who has been associated with JP Dutta and Nadiadwala Grandsons, informs that film photographers earn between Rs 3500 to Rs 5000 a day as freelancers, with the bigger names making more. Their job is to capture stills from the shoot and images of sets, which are then used by production houses for promotional content, banners, posters, etc. “Now with the lockdown, none of the photographers have any work,” he rues.
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