The Bollywood workers are as important as construction workers. The women wing of the junior artists called the Mahila Kalakar Sangh is seeking help and support from the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Uddhav Thackeray during the lockdown. Zhuleka, who heads the department and has worked with the likes of Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt and Govinda says that our Chief Minister needs to pay attention to us. We are also workers and totally dependent on work in the film industry and being daily wagers none of us has earned a single penny in the last one month.’’
Most of the members young or old are totally dependent on the film and TV industry. Zhuleka informs, “The men are driving rickshaws and doing odd jobs but our women members cannot do those jobs. Ramadan is going on and I keep getting calls from my members asking if they could get some help in the form of ration from the producers so that it could help them during the holy month of Ramadan. We are really helpless and want the CM and the producers to come forward and help the Mahila Kalakar Sangh.”
With only a month for the monsoon to arrive, most of the members have to prepare their homes to face the rains. Zhuleka said, “Quite a few of them live in the slums and don’t have tarpaulin to save themselves from the rain and work is nowhere in sight. I would therefore want CM Uddhav Thackeray to understand our plight too. Ek Nazar Hum Pe Bhi Daaliye. Industry ka bhi bada yogdaan raha hain Maharashtra ke progress mein.”
There are about 700 young and senior women who are members of the Mahila Kalakar and have been the first casualties in the first lockdown and again in the second lockdown. Deeba Khan who is an active member of the department said, “The first lockdown finished. Whatever savings we had and the help we got from the industry seniors helped us. We had started working but again the lockdown happened. And guidelines again have made us the first casualties and we will be the last ones to go back on set.”
Deeba has 12 members in her family and it is only her sister who works outside the industry and is supporting the entire family. Deeba says, “I have a sister but 80 percent of the workers are totally dependent on the income from the film industry.”
In the first lockdown not only did the industry come out to help, even the members of the association reached out to the members of Mahila Kalakar who needed financial help. But with a month passed in the second lockdown no one has come forward to help.