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FEFSI Strike: Kollywood Shuts Down; Overseas Shooting Continues

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Director Balaji Tharaneetharan at Oru Pakka Kathai Shooting Spot

FEFSI announced yet another indefinite strike on September 1. The announcement came on the heels of Vishal’s call to film students and other technicians to apply for various positions with the Tamil Film Producers Council (TFPC). Speaking to Silverscreen about the issue, RK Selvamani, head of FEFSI had said: “When negotiations are still going on, this move was really surprising. After much thought and discussion, we’ve decided to hold the strike.”

The current strike, unlike the last when a few movies were still shooting, has stalled the filming of over 55 movies, including Rajinikanth’s Kaala and Shankar’s Pulikesi 2.

Read: FEFSI Announces Yet Another Strike

FEFSI and their demands

 FEFSI is determined not to give in this time unless TFPC meets their demands. Angamuthu Shanmugam, general secretary, told Silverscreen, “TFPC has to call off the advertisement for newcomers to join the council. TFPC and FEFSI have been maintaining an agreement for over 45 years, and it will be revived every three years. The council should revive this agreement. They should tell us that they will work only with FEFSI in the future. Last time, we called off the strike as Labour Commission was supposed to intervene and sort out the issue, but now, they have said they cannot arrange a meeting between us and TFPC. So, the wage issue is yet to be sorted.”

Council reasons their move

Said a source close to the TFPC: “The Council has done this for the future of the film industry. This may cause inconvenience now, but it will help the industry in a big way. We need not depend only on FEFSI for shoots; they make demands because the industry is dependent on them. So, when we start working with youngsters, we will get to work with fresh talent and also, producers can work independently. The Council is interested to work with FEFSI members, but, we will also work with others.”

Strike complicates schedules

While strike is an inconvenience to everyone, it complicates the shooting of films which has actors from other industries. The team of Imaikkaa Nodigal had planned to shoot for 12 days in Chennai, but they were able to shoot only for four days as the shoot got cancelled due to the strike. The film has Nayanthara, Atharvaa in the lead roles, director Anurag Kashyup as the baddie, and Rashi Kanna in a pivotal role.

Director of the film, Ajay Gnanamuthu said, “If we are working with actors from Kollywood, we can work out the dates as all Tamil shoots have been stalled. This is not the case when we work with actors from other industries. I have Anurag Kashyap’s dates for five days. I have to finish his portions. Otherwise, I will have to wait indefinitely as he has other films to work on. It is a similar situation with Nayanthara, who has a Telugu film to complete and also with Rashi Kanna, who has a Telugu and a Malayalam film in various stages of production.”

Post-production work also hit

Dubbing of Mersal has been temporarily stalled while the post-production work of Thiruttu Payale 2 and Semma Bodha Aagadhey have been wrapped up. Dubbing, editing and sound-mixing studios have not taken up new projects.

 Release affected

Arumugakumar, director of Oru Nalla Naal Pathu Solren, said, “This is the second time our film’s shoot has been hit by the strike. It has halted the post-production work as well.  Even if the strike is called off, we won’t be able to start immediately as we need to plan our schedule again and re-work artiste dates. If the strike is called off after five days, we will be able to resume shoot only after 10 days as we have to change the entire plan, right from the location to shooting timings. Vijay Setupathi is the busiest actor in town, and as I’m shooting with him, his dates are very important. Strike has screwed up our plans twice, and he will have to work on other films when we resume shoot. This delay adversely affects our release date, too. By now, we could have completed the shoot and planned our release date. If one film’s release date changes, it affects the release of 10 other films. Both FEFSI and TFPC have points, they have to sit and talk it out.”

Venkat Parbhu’s ‘Party’ is on

The strike apparently does not apply to film shoots that are happening outside the country. The shoot of Venkat Prabhu’s Party is currently happening in Fiji. The crew have been shooting for over a month there. “The shoot is proceeding without any hindrance,” said a source from the film’s unit.

Vishal not shooting this time

While Vishal shot for his film Thupparivalan in Picchavaram during the strike last time, he is off the sets at the moment. Vishal’s spokesperson said, “He is not shooting for any film now. Set work of Sandakozhi 2 is going on in the city. He wants to ensure that it continues.”

Shoot of Kaala is uncertain for now

A star vehicle which is getting hit for the second time because of the strike is the Rajinikanth-starrer Kaala, directed by Pa Ranjith. The team, which has been filming for over 40 days in the city, had planned to shoot till September end. The shooting has now been stalled as technicians refused to work. A source from the film’s unit said, “Last time we stalled the shoot as the strike was expected to be called off in a couple of days. This time, as they have announced an indefinite strike, we may plan to resume the shoot with other alternatives as a lot of leading actors are involved in the shoot.”

“Strike disturbs creativity”

“Strike also spoils the momentum of the shoot. We shoot for a few days, stop during the strike, and if we resume after some 10 days, it really spoils the mood of the workers. We are in a creative field, we cannot work efficiently when something like this hampers our energy levels,” said Ajay.

What next?

“Vishal called Selvamani yesterday and they had a conversation about the strike. This evening, at 4.30 pm, Vishal has invited us for a meeting. But this time, unless our demands are met, we will not call off the strike. If there is no solution in today’s meeting, we are planning an agitation in Valluvar Kottam tomorrow,” said Angamuthu.

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