Kolkata: Till Wednesday, actor Vivaan Ghosh of ‘Krishnakali’ fame had managed fine to shoot his episodes at home. However, he missed the thrill of being in the makeup room and interacting with his co-artists. On Wednesday morning, he reached 13 No. Studio in Tollygunje to begin shooting from the floors.
This was after the state on Monday had allowed the resumption of indoor and outdoor shooting of TV programmes and films and associated activities, but with not more than 50 people per unit at a time. The units were asked to follow all Covid-safety protocols, such as wearing of masks, maintenance of physical distance, travelling with e-passes and getting at least one dose of vaccine.
Yet, resuming the shooting for all Bengali fiction and non-fiction shows was easier said than done. While artists had turned up, the problem was with the technicians affiliated to the Federation of Cine Technicians & Workers of Eastern India (FCTWEI). On Monday, FCTWEI had alleged that 20 serials – ‘Krishnakali’, ‘Titli’, ‘Aparajita Apu’, ‘Gramer Rani Binapani’, ‘Baran’, ‘Khelaghar’, ‘Jamuna Dhaki’, ‘Gangaram’, ‘Jibansathi’, ‘Mithai’, ‘Sanjher Bati’, ‘Khorkuto’, ‘Sreemoyee’, ‘Mohor’, ‘Desher Mati’, ‘Rimli’, ‘Ogo Nirupama’, ‘Felna’, ‘Dhrubotara’ and ‘Ki Kore Bolbo Tomae’ – had been hiring lights, wigs, props, SLR cameras, and deploying trained professionals for “shooting at home”. It was decided by FCTWEI that unless these producers gave satisfactory answers, technicians would not cooperate with the units of these serials. In addition, they have also been told to return the money offered to them from the producers for the period shooting happened at home.
Swarup Biswas, the president of FCTWEI, told TOI on Wednesday, “We have not received any reply from the production houses of these 20 serials. We will wait for good sense to prevail on them. However, technicians are extending full cooperation to the units of ‘Rani Rashmoni’, ‘Mahapeeth Tarapeeth’, ‘Ei Poth Jodi Na Sesh Hoy’, ‘Agnishikha’, ‘Korikhela’, ‘Kanyadaan’, ‘Nayantara’, ‘Mompalok’, ‘Balika Badhu’, ‘Police File’, ‘Hoyto Tomari Jonno’ and ‘Bikram Betal’. There are five non-fiction shows ‘Dance Dance Junior’, ‘Rannabanna’, ‘Didi No. 1’, ‘Dance Bangla Dance’ and ‘Rannaghar’.where technicians are working.”
Additionally, FCTWEI has also decided not to cooperate during the shooting of any new serials unless producers sign the MOU. “We have been waiting for two years and nine months for them to sign the MOU. Several mails have been sent but to no avail. More than 18 meetings were held to prepare this MOU. Chairman of tele academy Aroop Biswas was actively involved in finalizing this. Yet, the MOU has not been signed,” he said.
On being asked why the issues are not being raised at a joint conciliation committee (JCC), Biswas said FCTWEI is ready to take up the matter there. “We don’t have any problems with JCC,” he said.
Meanwhile, a message that leveled allegations against Biswas was circulated among industry insiders on Tuesday night. When Biswas was asked about the allegations, he said, “The note has not been signed by anyone. That is a very cowardly act.” Calling this a “politically motivated” agenda, he added that all this is a continuation of a vicious campaign against FCTWEI that was launched before the polls. “Before the elections, political opponents tried to play similar tricks. Yet, Mamata Banerjee came back to power with a landslide victory. These opponents are doing the same thing again by circulating such an anonymous note. The note has leveled charges of financial irregularities. We have audit reports to show that we have been fair. Cheque payment was done for technicians. During the pandemic, all technicians were given free three-layered masks, sanitizers and face shields. Producers never acknowledged FCTWEI’s efforts,” he added, refusing to reply to the charges unless the identity of the person or organization who has leveled them is revealed. “Before the elections, there were some big names of the industry who had launched a smear campaign against FCTWEI. We were united before the polls and will not break down now,” he pointed out.
On Wednesday, Ghosh, who was vaccinated last week, eagerly waited for the shooting to begin at the studio. “It feels so good to meet everyone after a month-and-a-half. However, I am missing our technicians. We are following all the government norms to begin shooting,” he said. On being asked how shooting will progress on his sets in the absence of technicians, he said, “We are following the same pattern that was used while shooting at home. Everyone is helping the other person. Our producer was once a director and is also technically very sound. Our director and cameraman have also come in. Shooting will begin shortly.”
Actors of ‘Rimli’ rehearse on the sets
It was a similar situation at Veeline studio. The unit of four serials – ‘Dhrubotara’, ‘Sanjher Bati’, ‘Ogo Nirupoma’ and ‘Rimli’ – that are produced by Acropolis had been called to start shooting on Wednesday morning. Sani Ghose Ray, the co-owner of Acropolis, said, “We have given the call-time to both artists and technicians. Some technicians have come in while some haven’t. Our technicians have been threatened with cancellation of guild memberships. Despite being willing, a lot of them have been forced to stay back. The shooting of ‘Rimli’ has begun. Others too will start shortly. Today, we are going ahead with whatever resources we have and will deliver the episodes to the channels.”