Standoff between TV artistes, producers in Bengal continues

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Kolkata, Aug 21 (IANS) The standoff between television artistes and a section of producers in Bengal over the payment of fees continued for the fourth day on Tuesaday even as senior members of the artistes’ forum appealed to everyone to resume shooting.

“We conducted a meeting with the artistes to make our standpoint clear. Our only demand is that all our payments are made on time. We have requested everyone to resume work and the forum will take care of the existing problems,” senior Bengali actor and Working President of West Bengal Motion Picture Artists’ Forum Prosenjit Chatterjee told reporters here.

The shooting of a number of Bengali mega serials has been stalled since August 18, as disputes over regularisation of artistes’ payment, due fees and working hours were not addressed by the Welfare Association of Television Producers (WATP).

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According to Chatterjee, the members of Artist Forum would stick to their decision as it was not possible for them to keep working without getting paid on time.

“The decision was taken in the presence of a Minister, which cannot be denied. We are ready to discuss the problems without any pre-condition. But if the artistes and performers in the industry ask for their due payments, is that a crime?” Chattejee asked.

“Like everyone else, artistes also have prior commitments. If they do not get their fees on time, it would be impossible for them to fulfil those commitments,” he added.

Arindam Ganguly, General Secretary of Artists’ Forum, said: “Our main agenda is to regularise the payments. We haven’t stalled the shoot as most of the artistes were waiting for the shoot even on Saturday when the disruption started.”

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Pointing out that some producers do make payments on time, he said that they had a meeting on July 7 with the producers’ association on this issue, after which the work was going on peacefully. However, disruptions started after the producers said they do not agree with any of the points discussed at the meeting.

On the stance of the producers, Swaroop Biswas, Secretary, Federation of Cine Technicians and Workers of Eastern India (FCTWEI), said: “I think the producers are being too rigid, which I feel is not right. Everyone in the industry including the producers, technicians and the artistes have to work, so rigidity won’t help.”

The producers have, however, blamed the artistes for stalling the work.

“Many artistes had done their make-up and were ready to shoot on Saturday (August 18), but they got a message on their phone to stop work. We haven’t asked them to do so,” WATP president Saibal Banerjee added.

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