TV actors, crew brace for pay cuts, delayed raises, lower budgets – Times of India

From lay-offs to salary cuts and forced leaves without pay, the COVID-19 pandemic has become the bane of employees across industries. The picture is no different in the Bengali television industry. After incurring huge losses due to shoots being stalled for over three months in the lockdown, some channels are now hinting at a possible reduction in production budgets even as actors and crew members brace themselves for pay cuts and delayed raises.
Sushanta Das, the producer of shows like Krishnakoli, Title and Ke Apon Ke Por, said though shootings were on a pause during the lockdown, they still had to pay 35% of the studio rent. “Besides, we had to manage the upkeep of our existing office and employees. After the shoots resumed, we had a discussion about pay cuts with all the crew members, vendors and actors. Fortunately, everyone has agreed to share the financial burden. In fact, even the studios have agreed to discount 20% of the rent for three months from the time shooting started,” he said.
Pay cuts for actors and crew
Dwaipayan Das, who is seen in shows like Kora Pakhi and Trinayani, has confirmed that he is taking a pay cut. “I have been communicated by the team that there will be a 20% cut. However, we are yet to receive our first payment since the shooting resumed after the lockdown,” said the actor.
Neel Bhattacharya, who plays the lead in Krishnakoli, said the production house had agreed to offer him a 20% raise from June. “But that’s not happening anymore, and I completely understand why. I heard that a 15-20% cut in remuneration is set to take place, but I will be spared from that. However, my raise remains due till the situation improves,” he said.
Not just the actors, even the crew members are set to receive reduced salaries. “A member of the producers’ team called and communicated the decision to us. This pandemic has created an extraordinary situation. We have little choice but to accept the cuts,” said Aditi Majumdar, the scriptwriter for Joy Baba Loknath and the upcoming serial Kheerer Putul.
While the senior crew members are going for a pay cut, junior technicians are exempted from it. “It is not a permanent thing. There will be a review meeting after three months. If things get better, the harsh decisions like pay cuts will be reconsidered,” said Amit Das, director of Kheerer Putul.
Some refuse to take a pay cut
However, not everyone is willing to settle for less, especially when the risks involved in shooting are at an all-time high. Soumili Biswas, who used to play the female lead in Joy Baba Loknath, turned down the role when asked for a cut. “How can I be okay with a lesser remuneration when I am risking my life by going on the sets to shoot? I cannot accept this double whammy. I have elderly parents at home and I have decided not to work at least till Puja,” said the actress.
Saswati Guha Thakurta, who used to work in Phirki, has also taken a break from work. “My age puts me at a higher risk of contracting the virus. My children, who live abroad, are insisting that I don’t go to work. As of now, I am on a break,” she said.

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