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Dharma Productions, Bosco Martis, Remo D'Souza step up to help struggling background dancers

Coordinator Raj Surani confirmed that help from industry insiders had come through after a video of background dancers seeking assistance went viral.

Photo: Courtesy Raj Surani on Instagram

Shriram Iyengar

After several cine background dancers put out a video describing their financial struggles in the lockdown, help has arrived. Dance coordinator Raj Surani confirmed that several members of the industry had offered help.

Surani said, "We have received help from a few people. Remo D'Souza has offered help. We have also received confirmation of funds from Dharma Productions. Bosco Martis has offered help, and his bungalow for 10 of the girls who have been threatened with eviction."

The video, which featured several background dancers describing the struggle of being without work or pay over the past two months, attracted attention through social media. While the dancers admitted that the Federation of Western Indian Cine Workers (FWICE) had offered help through Salman Khan's Being Human Foundation, they were still struggling to meet their daily needs.

Surani said, "We did get a coupon for Food Bazaar from Amitabh Bachchan sir through FWICE. They also provided rations to 100 people in April. We had also provided details of several dancers to Salman Khan's Being Human foundation through the FWICE. But there are still bills to pay. Dancers are struggling with light bills, rent bills, mobile bills, gas, and daily needs. Then, there is also the worry of what the future holds."

Surani added that anxiety about the future is one of the key issues faced by the dancers. "The problems for us are very clear. Dancers do not have any work right now. Even when the lockdown is lifted, they will not get work immediately. Gatherings, special events, weddings, group shoots will be restricted. If it does start after two months, where 100 dancers were employed, there will be 20. Unless the epidemic goes away completely, no one will take a risk. The dancers will have to stay home," he said.

For now, the Cine Dancers Association has approached several artistes and filmmakers for help, Surani said. But this could not be confirmed as no office-bearer of the CDA was reachable. The rival All-India Screen Dancers Association also seemed to be AWOL.

"To be fair, FWICE also has to handle a large number of associations under it. So, we have been approaching actors, filmmakers through the Cine Dancers Association ourselves," Surani said. "We have connected people directly to the bank accounts of the dancers requiring money. This helps them pay for their daily needs through online payments. We have carefully segregated it to ensure nobody receives double, and those in need receive it before anyone else." Again, Cinestaan could not independently verify this.

The lockdown, in place since March, has seen the film industry go through one of its longest shutdowns.

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