Will actors accept salary cuts in Tamil cinema?

A couple of days ago, veteran filmmaker and president of Tamil Film Active Producers Association, Bharathiraja wrote an open letter to all A-list actors and technicians of the Tamil film industry. In the letter, he requested the members of the film fraternity to take a 30 percent pay cut to allow film producers to restart the projects that were affected by the COVID-19 lockdown.

Bharathiraja noted that the producers of several unfinished movies are not able to raise money through the sales of digital, audio and satellite rights. And their condition was so dire that they are not even able to pay the interests on the loans they took to fund the projects.

The biggest question is whether it is really possible?  Will actors and technicians come forward to accept any salary cut?
Says a senior producer, ‘All artistes in the Telugu cinema are subjected to mandatory 20 per cent pay cut to make up for the losses incurred by the industry during the COVID-19 lockdown. In Malayalam film industry, the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA) and the Kerala Film Producers Association (KFPA), have also reached an agreement, where reportedly all their member actors and technicians have agreed to take a pay cut. Why not Tamil cinema? We should also introduce pay cut.’

Theatres were closed and our shoots were cancelled for long. Many ongoing projects as on March were stalled. We had to redraw schedules and wait for clearance from government. The seven month-long wait meant we had to pay interests for money borrowed for shoot. It will be fair that salary cut be initiated as we are not aware when theatres will be re-opened and how our movies would release, he adds.

Also only a few privileged producers could sell their movies in OTT. And television channels too not bothered about buying films. When such is the case, reduction of salary alone is the solution, opines a few.

However, industry-trackers say that the same producers for the very reason of getting call sheets from actors would not bother to pay salary as demanded by actors. They only inflate the remuneration of artistes. A mandatory rule as in Tollywood should be introduced to put an end to the issue. Theatres should open and only 50 percent sets would be allowed and in such a scenario, something has been done to revive the industry, they add.

M BHARAT KUMAR