Balaji style soap opera unwinds at Filmcity

MUMBAI: Balaji Telefilms, known to be the biggest production house of the small screen, hit a roadblock when a nasty fight broke out between Balaji crew members and members of the Allied Mazdoor Union (AMU), which represents the interests of labourers like spot boys, lightmen and set technicians.


The incident took place on 12 May night at the Killick Nixon studio in Mumbai's Andheri east suburb where a majority of the Balaji shows are filmed. The reason. says the AMU, was that Balaji did not change workers even after the end of the 12-hour shift, as mandated by the agreement forged between the producers and workers' unions.


Said a Balaji source, “They blamed us saying we did not change the workers after the completion of the 12 hour shift. But it isn’t true. Even after saying, we did change workers; they raised a ruckus and did not allow us to shoot following the ugly fight.”


Another source from Balaji added, “It is not for the first time they have attacked us. It’s an everyday routine. They visit our sets and try to upset our daily routine. We need to have a permanent solution.”


After the ruckus, the members of the union showed its might and stalled all shoots at Filmcity on 13 May until late in the evening. The Indian Television Dot Com office got calls from irate creative directors, producers, wondering when a resolution would be found during the day.


Several TV producers faced a problem, including Sudhir Sharma's Sunshine Productions, Yash Patnaik's Beyond Dreams, and Vikas Gupta's Lost Boy Productions - which have units shooting different shows at Filmcity.


AMU general secretary Gangeshwar Shrivastav said, “Workers are allowed to work for 12 hours. We heard that Balaji was making them work for more than 20 hours. When we received a complaint, we went there and they fought. They broke our cars. We filed a police complaint at Powai Police Station and four members of Balaji were arrested.”


Balaji Telefilms raised a protest with the Indian Film & Television Producers' Council  (IFTPC) of which it is a member. The TV division committee members got onto a conference call late in the evening with the AMU office bearers and told them to allow producers to recommence shooting at least for now. The AMU agreed to do so, but they mutually agreed to meet on a suitable date after 20 May to thrash out any misunderstandings.


Following the call, at around 6.30 pm,  the cameras started whirring and shouts of "Action" were heard once again on the shooting floors of Filmcity. 

( - part of the group was the first to report this story.)


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