The cast and crew of a new OTT show 'Dharavi Bank', which reportedly features Suniel Shetty, Vivek Oberoi, and Sonali Kulkarni, were left in the lurch when about 300 setting workers, employed on the set of the show, stopped work for nearly five hours, as they had not received any payment after working for nearly one month. During this time, the sets were being set up, while the shooting had not started yet. It is believed that the problem arose due to a delay in communication between the art director and the production team.
For perspective, it was in July 2021, that a fairly popular art director Raju Sapte committed suicide and that changed the way the film industry conducted business with its art department workers. Earlier, producers used to give an art director’s payments to the cine employees union, which used to forward the money to the art director, who, in turn, would settle the dues of the workers.
Since Sapte's tragic demise, it was decided that the producer would directly pay art directors and workers to avoid any delays and make the process transparent. But the decision is not really working in the favour of any of the parties involved as most of the workers are not getting paid on time. One such incident has come to light recently.
General Secretary of Federation of Western India Cine Employees, Ashok Dubey spoke to ETimes and said, “We have been getting frantic calls from our members about non-payment of wages and their calls to reach out to the production and responsible authorities are not being answered by anyone. The workers are really harrowed and don't know what to do. We got a call about them stopping work on the sets”.
The payments for setting and art department work are being directly paid to the art director, who is supposed to disburse the wages to the workers of the setting department. In this case, it is art director Wasik Khan, who is in charge of the 'Dharavi Bank' project. When ETimes reached out to him, he brushed aside the news of the stoppage of work on the sets and said, “There is always a slight delay of payment which is normal in our industry and the workers didn't stop work at all”.
Umesh Shinde, production executive on the project, though, had a contrasting view. He said, “There is a complete chaos and I have not even received the invoice from the art director to whom the payment has to be made. It is a big amount for which I would need a letter from the art director. All this has resulted in the delay of payments to workers who are getting harassed. I wish we had the option to pay directly to the union. At least, with them, there is a secure place where the payments can be made and then be disbursed to the workers”.