Behind the glamours and glitters of the Mumbai film industry that we look from outside, there are many gloomy untold stories. The recent Coronavirus-led lockdown unveiled many such stories. There are millions of people directly or indirectly dependent upon the film industry. Besides some-known faces and technicians we know, there are many artists, technicians and support staff who strived to make their two ends meet and survive in Mumbai. Among such people are wage workers like Spot Boys, Lightmen, Art department staff and technicians in the film world. However, there were many organisations and netizens who came forward in support of these people during this difficult time. One of such people was Dr Abdul Rehman Vanoo.
Dr Vanoo was responsible for sending daily essentials and money to the needy during this period even in the outskirts of Mumbai areas like Virar and Palghar. Dr Abdul Rehman Vanoo, who is elected as the General Secretary of Dadasaheb Phalke Film Foundation, is a man of integrity, hard work and excellence. He has been performing his duty as the General Secretary since 2018. He always had a vision to uplift and upgrade the technicians of the Hindi film industry and he has taken huge efforts in that direction.
He said, “The industry is not filled with just actors, producers, writers and directors. While the spotlight is always on them in most award functions, we feel that the technicians including spot boys, cameramen and lakhs of people who work for their daily wages on the sets are also contributing to making a film and the final product. So, we made sure that they do not suffer during this period. We supplied daily essentials to them in various parts of Mumbai.”
Dr Vanoo has also helped the Mumbai Police and provided them with essentials during the lockdown. The Mumbai Police had set up a quarantine centre in Kalina, Santacruz East and Dr Vanoo helped in providing many services to them. Borivali, Dharavi and many other areas have been provided with daily essentials by Dr Vanoo’s organisation. He said, “Many people lost their jobs and we decided to give them work and food. And this was not only restricted to Mumbai. We provided these facilities and daily essentials to Delhi, Pune and many other cities in India. We also researched on how people deal with mental health during the lockdown. And in addition, we also continue to maintain healthcare facilities and provide jobs to daily wage workers. The government is also giving us good support.”
The daily wage workers of Dadasaheb Foundation were also badly affected. Dr Vanoo said, “We took a huge list of addresses of these workers and provided them with food, daily essentials, groceries and medical support to the entire staff. Nalasopara, Mira Road and many other areas, we transported daily essential services. Since we were working with Mumbai Police, we had a pass to travel to different areas and therefore, a big thanks to the Mumbai Police department, since we could use this pass in helping others.”
In addition, Dr Vanoo is also working towards uplifting and upgrading the skills of these technicians. He observed, “Most of these workers have come to the city to earn their daily bread. They are not educated. So, we motivate them to study further and make them self-reliant. We also encourage them to learn special skills, which in turn would help them in the filmmaking process. I feel this is important for the people of our country and the film industry.”
As the coronavirus has made the ever-dynamic film industry standstill, we hear many depressive stories such as struggling actors leaving Mumbai or choosing different professions to even some suicide stories. While many struggling actors from well-off families have returned to their respective homes or being able to manage their expenses. The Cine and TV Artists Association(CINTAA) has apparently offered monetary support to some of these strugglers. Precisely to those who are registered with the association. There are thousands of unregistered artists too who are struggling to thrive in Mumbai.
However, the plight of unskilled, skilled and semi-skilled workers who play critical roles behind the scene. People like Dr Abdul Rehman Vanoo have unarguably become a messiah to these people in this difficult time.