Studios suffer losses as cine workers continue strike

Mumbai, Nov 13 (IANS) The dispute between Bollywood's cine workers association and producers is taking its toll on studios - the owners are facing losses as the shooting of all serials has been stalled.

"The shooting of serials has come to a complete halt. Since the beginning of this month, we hardly had any bookings for serials. It is a hundred percent loss for us as we have to pay our maintenance and other liabilities," Imtiaz Hamid, manager Essel Studios, a prime shooting location for serials, told IANS.

Hemal Trivedi of Sankraman studio said: "It is a huge loss for us because there has been no shooting of serials from last eight to 10 days because of the dispute."

"However, bookings for ad films and feature films have saved us," he added.

Filmistan Studios, which normally rents out to filmmakers, is also affected by the strike.

"The strike has affected 20 percent of our business. There has been a significant decrease in bookings for serials. The last serial shot here was Ekta Kapoor's 'Mahabharat', which was six days ago. After that not a single serial has been shot here," Murari Seksaria, the studio manager, said.

"Bookings for Fox Telefilms were also cancelled recently," he added.

Rajesh Raman of Kamal Amrohi studios said there have been no bookings in their studio for TV serials for past one month.

"The dispute has affected our business by more than 60 percent. Major production houses have cancelled their bookings and it is having a deep impact on us," Raman said.

"If it is affecting us so badly, think about the broadcasters, producers and the workers - they must be having a tough time now," Raman pointed out.

Referring to the loss suffered by the industry, Mukesh Bhatt, Producers Guild president, said: "It's a huge loss to the industry which is more than Rs.1 billion per day."

The cine workers association Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) went on strike after the producers failed to pay the revised wages to the workers.

About resolving the issue, Bhatt said: "It's in a stalemate situation where both the parties have taken a rigid stand. No party is ready to listen and they have become really arrogant and we can't do anything."

The workers' body is, however, adamant about their demands and in no mood to compromise.

Dharmesh Tiwari, president FWICE, said: "Enough of producers! Now we will not listen to them."

He said after signing the MOU for the second time last month, the producers' body has again faltered.

"Our workers are suffering looses, but we are fighting for their better future. We had tried our best to co-operate with them, but now the situation has really worsened. We won't compromise this time. If actors, producers and others are paid huge money why can't these people, who work so hard, toil?"

However, T.P. Agarwal, president Indian Motion Pictures Association (IMPA), said the producers' body will hold a meeting soon and try to resolve the issue. The producers argue that they can hike the workers's wages only if the channels will pay them more.

On meeting producer's demand for a hike, STAR TV CEO Uday Shankar said: "I think we have been paying them well, which also includes the worker's fees and, therefore, see no reason for a hike which will again put an additional burden on our advertisers.

"We are not in a position to give a hike to the producers at this moment. Economic meltdown is not the sole cause for it, but it is one of the reasons."

Currently all the channels are re-running earlier episodes.

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