The Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) has written a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, requesting the government to allow films and TV shows to resume production in the state.
The shooting is currently on hold owing to the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. In April, the Maharashtra government had announced the suspension of all shootings in order to curb the spread of the deadly disease.
In the letter, sent to Thackeray on Monday, the FWICE said the media and entertainment sector has been badly hit due to the coronavirus-induced statewide lockdown.
The letter read, “With reference to the subject matter, we would like to draw your attention to the numerous requests sent to you by the FWICE and the co-ordination committee regarding our request for resumption of work in the M&E Industry. However, none of our letters have been responded by your good office and no decision has been taken on our requests.”
It also stated that “lakhs of artists, workers and technicians” have been jobless for the past one and half years when the pandemic started in India.
“Sir, let us apprise you that there are lakhs of artists, workers and technicians who are jobless since the past one and half years and that the only source of income for them is from the M&E Industry. This industry has been providing work to lakhs of hands and enabling their families to earn their daily bread. However, the lockdown of the Industry has impacted the lives of these daily wage workers who have absolute no other source of income and are totally dependent on the work of the Industry,” the letter further read.
The FWICE said that an extension of the statewide lockdown will be a major “setback” for daily wagers and producers.
“The announcement of extension of the lockdown for another 15 days shall really be a setback for these deprived set of artists, workers and technicians and also the economy of the Industry. Not only the workers but the producers are also affected badly with huge investments already made into the running projects which have been to a standstill due to the unfortunate lockdown. We being the mother body of 32 different crafts of artists, workers and technicians of the industry have been receiving numerous calls from our members regarding their difficult survival conditions and requesting us to start the work of the Industry,” the letter stated.
The film body requested the Maharashtra CM to provide “special permission” for the resumption of shooting activities in the state.
“Sir, we hereby request you to please provide us with a special permission to resume the work of the M&E industry enabling these lakhs of daily wage workers to earn their living and survive with their families during these most difficult times. We shall ensure that the work shall resume with strict adherence to the SOP’s, Guidelines issued by the government especially for the M&E Industry,” the letter added.
“FWICE and the co-ordination committee assure you that all the rules and regulations of the government shall be followed by each and every crew member and all necessary precautions shall be taken at each work location,” the letter, signed by chief advisor Ashoke Pandit and President B N Tiwari among others, concluded.
Currently, some TV shows and film shoots are happening outside Maharashtra.
The Maharashtra government on Sunday extended the lockdown-like restrictions till 15 June but also stated that relaxations will be granted depending on the COVID-19 positivity rate and availability of oxygen beds and other supplies.
In Mumbai, some restrictions were relaxed by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) after the city recorded a decline in COVID-19 cases. The civic body has so far allowed non-essential shops to operate between 7 am to 2 pm on alternate days from Monday to Friday for the next 15 days.