New Delhi: Lights, Camera, Action! These words hold so much power in them. We have been fascinated by these words. However, the second wave of corona has hit a pause button on all of that. The national capital reported 8,506 new coronavirus cases on Friday, taking the cumulative tally to 13,80,981.
Covid is at its peak and the situation outside is very horrifying.
Theatre houses and the auditoriums are closed and it is very difficult for the artists to survive. Any theatre production consists of an actor, actress or director but have you ever given a thought to who designed the beautiful stage? Who designed the props? Who set the lights? They all play an important role in theatre at the backstage and this pandemic has hit all of them very hard. The auditoriums have been closed for more than a year.
So, to get a clearer picture of the situation, CitySpidey talked to a backstage artist, Jagtap, a light operator. He said, “Last time when the lockdown started, there were many people who helped the backstage artists and last year, theatres opened properly in December. However, before the first lockdown, we had 40 plays but after the lockdown opened, there were only 4 plays in December.”
“And now, the second lockdown was imposed on April 4 and then all the theatres were closed again. In Mumbai, we have 1,054 backstage workers and they all depend only on the theatre houses. In this situation, we are also not supposed to go for help because everyone has their own problem in this tough time,” he further added
He said, “On April 16, we wrote a letter to the Maharashtra government for help because last time Akhil Bhartiya Natya Parishad helped us. This sanstha provides 4,000 rupees to every backstage artist for three months. But this time the situation is worse, so we wrote a letter to the Maharashtra government. In Maharashtra, the lockdown extends to June 1 and I don’t think the theatre will open easily.”
He concludes, “I came back to my village because it is difficult to survive. I am a light operator and also distribute lights to the theatre shows and for this, I have a godown on rent, and in this pandemic, it is difficult to pay the rent. I also tried for another job, a metro station guard. All the artists need help in this tough time and the government should think about this.”
A makeup man Sandeep Nagarkar said, “All the theatres are closed and plays are on pause. The situation is so difficult that at the age of 42, we do not have any other work. I tried to apply for another job but was rejected because of the age factor. For the last one year, my wife has been doing a job. The government does not come forward to help our community. Rangmanch Kamgar Sangh and Akhil Bhartiya Natya Parishad helped us a lot. They distribute grocery including essential food items for all the backstage artists.”
Rahul Bhandare, Secretary of Marathi Natya Nirmata Sangh, said, “All the backstage artists are in poor condition and most of the artists tried to find a new job. Many artists died due to pressure and hypertension. The government does not take care. Rangmanch Kamgar Sangh came forward to rescue the theatre artists.”