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Cine Dancers' Association slams parallel association backed by BJP legislator Ram Kadam

The CDA said Kadam’s parallel association was illegal and accused it of robbing its members of their livelihoods.

Ram Kadam, BJP MLA and president of the All-India Screen Dancers Association

Mayur Lookhar

The Cine Dancers' Association (CDA) is up in arms against a newly formed parallel body, the All-India Screen Dancers Association (AISDA), raising questions about its legality and, more worryingly, accusing it of robbing the 1,100 members of the recognized union of their livelihoods.

The parallel body is run by Ram Kadam, a Bharatiya Janata Party member and a legislator in the state of Maharashtra, and Gangeshwar Shrivastav, treasurer of the Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE).

The FWICE is the apex body of the film industry workers' unions and has 21 associations affiliated with it, the CDA being one of them.

Speaking to Cinestaan.com, Vijay Singh, CDA president, said, "The parallel association has been created by Ram Kadam and Gangeshwar Shrivastav. The FWICE is meant to look after the interests of the CDA and other affiliates, but Shrivastav himself has created this parallel association. Ram Kadamji should not have aligned himself with the parallel association."

The CDA was formed back in 1961 while Kadam’s AISDA is said to have come into being just a few months ago.


"The parallel association started on 5 July," Rahul Sapkale, CDA general secretary, said. "Because of them, our dancers are losing out on work. We have 1,100 members and their families are suffering because of the parallel association. Non-members [from Kadam’s association] are taking our jobs. Abhijit Shinde, one of our members, committed suicide [on 22 August] due to financial problems. We don’t want this to happen to any of our members again."

According to Vijay Singh and Sapkale, their members have lost out on as much as 70% of their monthly quota of work. Vijay Singh alleged that the parallel body has been formed only to make money.

"The new body is nothing but a moneymaking exercise," the CDA president said. "The dance coordinators who hire dancers are the ones to be blamed. These coordinators are connected with production houses and choreographers. They are recruiting dancers from the parallel association and hiring fewer from our association."

According to Vijay Singh, the producers are not at fault. He said the dance coordinators are charging the producers standard rates decided by the CDA but hiring dancers from the parallel body at lower rates, making a killing on the difference.

The standard rate for a CDA artiste is Rs4,000 for a day, which is lowered to Rs3,500 for regional films. "The parallel association offers dancers at as low as Rs2,000 a day," Vijay Singh said. "Their members are not aware of the standard rates."

CDA members protested outside Chitragupt ground at Andheri in northwest Mumbai on Thursday, 6 September. Choreographers Remo D’Souza and Saroj Khan were shooting a dance number for the Dharma Productions film Kalank at the venue.

A group of woman CDA members, led by Anna D’Silva, asked to speak to D’Souza but were stopped by security. The film crew even called the police alleging misconduct by D’Silva and the other CDA members. D’Silva has been a member of CDA since 2011.

"Apart from CDA, there can be no other parallel union," D'Silva said. "The All-India Screen Dancers Association is illegal. Membership of CDA usually runs into lakhs of rupees, but the parallel body is charging Rs2,000-5,000 [on instalment] for membership. Their card value is around Rs50,000; our card is valued at Rs2,25,000. For boys, it is more. I paid Rs1.25 lakh to get my CDA membership. Rs5,000 is not a huge amount, so any person, irrespective of his/her talent, can get a card from the parallel body. We don’t recognize such members."

Anna D'Silva

D’Silva said they were stunned to find that most of the dancers at the Kalank shoot were not from the CDA. "There were 40 girls on the sets of whom only six were from the CDA," she said. "The remaining 34, most of them didn’t even have any membership. Some of them were from Kadam’s association. We are being robbed of our livelihood. It is not that we have a shortage of girls. That was the case earlier when coordinators hired non-members at Rs500 a day. Today, they are hiring anybody.”

Veteran choreographer Ganesh Acharya backed the CDA and urged his fellow choreographers not to deprive CDA artistes of their rights.

Ganesh Acharya 

Speaking to Cinestaan.com, Acharya said, “CDA was formed in 1961. I have been a member since 1987. I fully back the dancers from CDA. Some new union has been formed, which has Ram Kadamji as president. I appeal to all choreographers not to work with dancers from the parallel association. Kindly hire dancers from CDA. There was a time when you were part of CDA, please help them now.”

Gangeshwar Shrivastav remained unavailable for comment, but Cinestaan.com spoke to FWICE president BN Tiwari who believes the only way to resolve the matter is to get the two rival associations to merge.

"Firstly, the Screen Dancers Association is not affiliated to FWICE," Tiwari said. "We don’t recognize it. The problem is that there are many such parallel bodies today with political backing. The legality of the All-India Screen Dancers Association was challenged, but the Competition Commission of India ruled that the law entitles anyone to work in any industry. FWICE  has only one power: it can choose not to work with the non-members. We cannot stop any producer from hiring anyone though.”

FWICE president BN TIwari (centre)

Given this situation, Tiwari believes the best way forward is for the two associations to merge. He said one reason why many new dancers are joining the parallel body is because of the high 'donation' charged by the CDA. "The membership fee for the CDA is just around Rs1,000," he said. "But their donation is around Rs3 lakh. How can young dancers afford this?”

He said the feud between the two groups would only benefit producers. "Today, producers hire dancers from abroad at short notice," the FWICE president said. "If the CDA doesn’t upgrade itself, others are ready to step in. We are in talks with Ganesh Acharya. Efforts are on to merge the two groups. Together they will survive, otherwise it is a loss for both.

“The producer is only concerned with his work. He/she does not want to get into such politics. Any producer is always open to cutting costs. The moment the parallel association came up, it has only worked to the benefit of the producer. If there 200-300 dancers required for a day’s shoot and the daily fee is only Rs1000, the producer would save more.”

The FWICE will be meeting the two bodies and expects an amicable decision soon. “It is in the best interests of all that the bodies merge," Tiwari repeated. "We are working towards it. We have warned them that if the two bodies don’t resolve their differences, we may ignore both and associate with a third body.”