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|May 18, 1997||
Strike paralyses Madras film industry
The usual bustle is missing from the studios in Madras. The cameras are still and a few people sit around, clustered on the parapet. The dream-makers of the south aren't on the job; they are on strike.
The strike was called by the Film Employees Federation of South India after the Tamil Film Producers' Council planned to cut costs, a move that would also mean that some technicians and artists would be out of a job. But before the trimming exercise commenced, the producers hoped to wrap up all ongoing production work, the deadline being August 1.
But the FEPSI realised that the cash crunch could affect them badly and went on strike before the producers began tightening their belts.
One producer said the situation is so bad that the cuts will have to come into effect immediately. But there is little room for cuts since the Madras film industry already works within tight economic limits. And since films are already being shot as quickly as possible to reduce costs to the minimum, reduction in wages is the only solution, he said.
There are almost 15 films waiting in the pipeline due to the strike and the industry is losing about Rs 15 million a day. And that's not counting the interest.
Chief Minister K Karunanidhi, himself a former scriptwriter, is trying to resolve the problem, perhaps worried that the government will lose the 40 per cent entertainment tax coming from theatres if they join the strike. His mediation hasn't helped. And the stalemate continues.
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