The Singing and Dancing Stops as Bollywood Goes on Strike

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Protesting pay, unsavory working conditions and the hiring of non-union employees, a federation of unions representing film and television workers in India have gone on strike, bringing all production in Bollywood to a halt. It seems unlikely that the Indian TV business will respond by filling the airwaves the way their American counterparts did during last year's writers strike, which was to unleash an avalanche of unscripted crap on U.S. audiences. The Bollywood shutdown includes everyone, as the BBC put it, "from dancing girls to carpenters, lighting technicians to cameramen, and soundmen to script writers."

A long-running strike could be a huge blow to the Indian economy. Bollywood, of course, is a massive entertainment-industrial complex that includes a $2 billion movie machine that produces more films than Hollywood.

Producers, needless to say, are pissed about having to shut down producton, as detailed in a piece on Quoted at length is producer Rajan Shahi, who has the number one show "Bidaai" on Star Plus: "I had to shoot this very important scene and had erected a very costly set. Now with the cine employees going for a strike, I will have to bear a major financial loss. ... With the shooting coming to an indefinite halt, I don't know how I will shoot the sequence. Had I been in the loop I could have extended the shooting. I have not been informed officially about it. What does a producer like me do who abides by all the laid-down rules? I have strictly asked my people to hire only those who are members of the association, be it art director, associate director or anyone, for that matter. Also I have no outstanding payments and I have often been commended for this. To top it all I have not got the correct picture of the whole thing."

Equally pissed are the unions, whose leaders have been complaining about their members having to work for 30-hour stretches as well as deal with accidents and unsafe environments. There's no immediate indication of how long the strike would last, but at least one union rep said it could go on for months.
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