Of late, TV actor Manas Shah, who has appeared in popular shows like Hamari Devrani, Gulaal and Sankatmochan Mahabali Hanuman, has been in news for his fight against the producers of his show Hamari Bahu Silk over non-payment of dues. Not just Manas, the entire cast and crew of the show have been suffering because of the severe delay in payment.
In an exclusive interview with International Business Times, India, Manas revealed that from the director to the spotboy, none has received the payment since November last year and the ongoing pandemic has worsened the situation further. There are no job currently and the future remains uncertain.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
Has the plea been heard? What's the update regarding it?
The producers have stopped answering my call. When one of my colleagues called them a few days ago, they continued to say the same thing that they had been trying and everything would be sorted out soon. What they don't understand is that it's not just about 50-60 people but their families are also being exploited both mentally and financially.
In fact, when my article published on May 28 went viral, the I&B Ministry tweeted that all the producers should clear the payments for the work already done. All the producers have also received a notice regarding this. Yet, there has been no proper response from the Hamari Bahu Silk producers.
The industry is about to resume shoot with just 33 percent crew, which means employment will be affected. So, at this crucial time, if previous payments are cleared, the pressure on those 67 percent of people sitting at home will be reduced.
Tell us about your initiatives to fight for the injustice
In the industry, TV actors get payment after 90 days of the telecast. It's rare for actors to get monthly payments. So, I took the initiative that when shooting shows resumes after the pandemic, why can't payments be made on a monthly basis. Another motive behind this initiative was when a certain producer who can't make payments within a month or so, there should be a clause to stop them from continuing to shoot. When policies are changing around the world, why can't the entertainment industry's income policies be changed?
In our case, by the time when we were supposed to receive our payments, the show went off air. There is a lot of financial pressure to survive in a metro like Mumbai. In fact, the total amount due for the entire team is more than Rs 1.5 crore. So, I decided to expose the producers and speak against the injustice done to the entire team.
Continued..I have worked with eight to nine production houses and never did I face a situation like this. It has been eight months since we have been waiting for our paychecks. If someone has to pay EMI, he has to bear the interest for late payments as well. Will the producers pay interest for the late payments?
I have received a lot of support for my initiative. A lot of actors including Dipika Chikhlia, who played Sita in Ramayan, RJ Mantra and others tweeted in support of the initiative. I will fight for my rights with dignity.
Do you think fighting for your right may have negative impact on your career?
I don't think so. Not all producers are the same. There are many production houses that are thorough professionals like the Balaji telefilms, Rajshri productions and never have we heard of any complaints against them. Also if I'm fighting for my right, I don't see why other producers should have any problem with it.
Will you be more careful while choosing projects in future?
Of course. This was my first negative experience despite having been in this industry for the past 10-12 years and working in 9-10 projects. I'm proud to be a part of the entertainment industry.
Have you received any TV show offers lately?
Yes, I received a few calls for audition and look test but that stopped after the new guidelines by the government came out.