Veteran film and TV actor Pratima Kannan, who is currently doing a part in comedy show Bhabiji Ghar Par Hai, opens up on the turmoil coronavirus pandemic has created in the lives of working professionals of the entertainment industry.
Pratima is of the opinion that senior actors of the industry want to keep themselves safe, owing to the high risk factor, and are responsible enough. No one wants to sit idle, she stresses. Blocking their source of income by creating work restrictions based on age on top of a global health crisis does not sit well with her.
“The kind of protocols that were maintained on the set helped in warding off the fear of coming to work to some extent. The whole unit was staying on the set and only the actors were doing back and forth. The responsibility then was entirely ours to keep everyone, including the unit, safe and risk free. I cannot say what thought goes behind in passing such an order but after a certain age, people become more responsible, especially during the pandemic. Many actors themselves opted not to go to work during the Covid, but some wanted to work and they were very upset about this.”
She added, “And certainly restrictions were lifted after sometime. But, did the senior actors in any way stop taking care while working in the pandemic? I think they were doubly cautions. The thing here is, it is our profession and many livelihoods depend on it. We are also working on daily wages. Sadly, no one’s attention is on us. If we are sitting at home idle, how are we going to survive? Not every actor is a star. Agreed, there is a pandemic but life without work is also difficult. A lot of people are really worried due to the scarcity of work. On top of that if they fall ill, it is an additional financial burden. Government should also be thinking about the actors.”
Many within the business are of the opinion that shooting work should be delayed further until better times arrive. She said, “I’d like to say that financial security is paramount. Working is the need of the hour. It has already been a year-and-a-half that we are dealing with the pandemic. How much would an actor have saved, I want to ask? Today, actors who have done so much work in the past are putting out posts on social media asking for financial support. Who will answer them? Those speaking out about financial insecurity are honest. Others may not be forthright keeping in mind their public status. Some have to pay rent, others have to keep their children in school. I believe this topic should be discussed more. Last year, there was some timely action and shoots were re-started in Mumbai. This time around, I see people slacking off. The shows that are going outstation and shooting are bearing double the costs. Plus, the cast and crew are separated from their families."
Pratima also opens up on her personal and professional experience during the pandemic. “Initially, since we do not get to spend a lot of time with family due to work, staying at home was a good feeling. There was excitement and I was enjoying daily life. Slowly, irritation starts to creep in. Normally, where there were 20 days of shoot in a month, it got reduced to just 5-6. I think this will affect anyone. Then the pressure of staying healthy is also there. It is mentally draining. Many have suffered depression bouts and some even took their lives. People who have the capacity to help out actors, not financially, by giving them work in these times, should step up."
Has coronavirus exposed the myth of financial security in an actor’s life? “This is the reality. When an actor is earning regularly, they tend to buy material things and increase their standard of living. It is a natural thought. Additional costs of living keep on increasing as well. Say their show does not run for long. The liabilities are already added up. I am certain most of the actors do not have financial security. If anything, coronavirus has taught us to be financially sensible and save up for uncertain times. ‘Apni chadar se zyaada pair na failayein’. The fraternity of actors is going through a serious crisis. Sadly, no one is speaking out. Even if they want to talk about it, where do they go? The Government should be thinking about the actors. Many are of the opinion that those in front of the camera are loaded with money. Only few are aware of the reality. It’s wrong to be living with a false sense of pride," Pratima signed off.