The Film Employees Federation of Kerala (FEFKA) along with film technicians and other workers associations have issued a statement on Wednesday asking the Kerala Government to grant permission for film shoots as several daily wage workers in the industry are suffering due to loss of work.
The shooting of movies and television serials was suspended in the state on April 29, following the second wave of Covid-19. On June 22, permission to resume shooting of TV serials was given by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. However, no respite was offered to the film industry.
Due to lack of clarity on when permission will be granted to resume filming, around seven Malayalam film shootings have been shifted outside Kerala, the FEFKA statement said. One of the major upcoming projects, a film titled Bro Daddy, featuring Mohanlal and directed by Prithviraj, too started filming in Hyderabad after waiting in vain for outdoor shoots to resume in Kerala.
FEFKA added that all this has meant that several daily wage workers, such as light operators, production assistants and several others, have lost their income. “The financial support promised by the Kerala Government was Rs 2000 per employee during the first lockdown. FEFKA also distributed Rs 2.25 crore, thus ensuring every employee received at least Rs 5000 as financial support. Though FEFKA is continuing its efforts to provide support to its employees for the cost of medicines, treatment, vaccination, education of their children, etc, as an employee association with limited access to funds, FEFKA cannot continue doing this forever,” they further said.
“The Malayalam movie industry is going through challenging times as a business and as an employment creator. Most of the workers have been vaccinated and we have requested multiple times for permission to start shooting maintaining all necessary Covid protocols, including PCR testing before shooting starts. But, we are yet to get a positive response from the government,” the statement added.
Filmmaker-writer Vidhu Vincent took to Facebook and said that the film industry should be treated at par with any other important sector. Mentioning how daily wage workers in the entertainment industry are suffering due to shoots not starting, Vincent wrote in Malayalam, “The government should consider the opening of the cinema industry. Shootings can even be started with only 50 people participating.”
Producer NM Badusha also put forth a request to the state government via Facebook. He wrote in Malayalam: “From ticket sellers to representatives in theatres, everyone is in great distress. Those who can help, have helped a lot. What is needed now is the intervention of the government. There are so many who are starving.”
“More than 80 films that have completed the production work cannot be released. So many producers are in a big crisis and we have to get out of this. We humbly request constructive intervention from the government,” he further added.