With life returning back to normal after the COVID-19 pandemic in Mumbai, reel life is not far behind, as production sets are opening. Apart from ensuring a steady stream of entertainment options, this has come as a relief for the 5 lakh+ cine workers in Mumbai. Their livelihoods, already marked by the instability of daily wage labour, were sent for a lurch multiple times during the pandemic years.
“Informality exists in Mumbai’s contemporary cine-ecology right next to corporatisation,” writes Debashree Mukherjee in Bombay Hustle: Making Movies in a Colonial City, her book following the talkie transition in Bombay’s film industry. “Just walk through Andheri West and you will see that multimillion-dollar corporate studios can exist cheek-by-jowl with numerous one- room production companies and editing studios, while a surplus of freelance and wage labour drives all forms of media production.”
These circumstances mean a lack of job stability and employment benefits, leading to many of the workers leaving the city due to the lockdown. With things supposedly back to normal, a boost in daily income lies ahead.
Sabah Virani is a reporter for the Mumbai chapter of Citizen Matters, interested in matters of labour, policy and history. She is fascinated by the gradual swell of change in institutions and ideology over time. Sabah holds a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and has previously worked at All Things Small and Fifty Two.
In the interludes, she can be caught reading, watching movies or driving, rather fast.