Producer Vashu Bhagnani owes over Rs 65 lakh to crew members: Cine Employees' Federation

Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) president BN Tiwari has said veteran film producer Vashu Bhagnani owes over Rs 65 lakh to crew members who worked on three of his films 'Mission Raniganj', 'Ganpath' and 'Bade Miyan Chote Miyan'.
Last Updated : 29 June 2024, 07:14 IST

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Mumbai: Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) president BN Tiwari has said veteran film producer Vashu Bhagnani owes over Rs 65 lakh to crew members who worked on three of his films Mission Raniganj, Ganapath and Bade Miyan Chote Miyan.

Bhagnani’s company Pooja Entertainment owes Rs 33.13 lakh to director Tinu Desai, who helmed their 2023 film, Mission Raniganj, Tiwari said on Friday. The movie was headlined by Akshay Kumar.

The production house owes Rs 31.78 lakh to over 250 set workers who worked on movies like Mission Raniganj, Tiger Shroff’s Ganpath (2023), and Akshay Kumar and Shroff’s Bade Miyan Chote Miyan (2024), Tiwari added.

Bhagnani remained unavailable for comment.

In a complaint filed on March 19 to Indian Film & Television Director’s Association (IFTDA), Desai said he worked on Mission Raniganj from February 2022 to October 6, 2023 (the release date of the film) and the amount to be received as per the contract was Rs 4,03,50,000 and he has only received Rs 3,70,36,092 so far.

“A written complaint was filed by the director of Mission Raniganj regarding non-payment of his dues of Rs 33.13 lakh from Vashu Bhagnani last year in March. We’ve been following up with Pooja Entertainment but still they haven’t made the payment. They have said by July end they will clear the dues,” Tiwari told PTI.

Desai declined to comment when contacted by PTI.

According to FWICE President, IFTDA has written multiple letters to Pooja Entertainment but they kept delaying the payment.

“In February they sought time to pay citing Jackky Bhagnani’s wedding via an email dated February 20, 2024 to IFTDA and later they didn’t reply. After FWICE wrote them a letter in March 2024, they again sought time to make the payment saying they would do so after the release of their film, Bade Miyan Chote Miyan, again that has not happened,” Tiwari said.

“This is unfair what they are doing, they are leading a luxurious life, and when it comes to paying the dues they are making excuses. In their latest email, they have said they will clear the dues by July end but if they don’t do so then our workers will not work on any of their films,” he added.

About 200 to 250 workers, who are part of Film Studios Setting & Allied Mazdoor Union, are yet to receive payment of Rs 31,78, 327 from Pooja Entertainment, Rakesh Maurya, a union leader, claimed.

“There are three to four categories of workers who construct a set, they usually receive somewhere between Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,400 per day. The pending dues of a single worker could range between Rs 10,000 to 20,000 or more,” Maurya of Film Studios Setting & Allied Mazdoor Union, told PTI.

They have about 48,000 daily wage workers in different departments like set department, lightmen, and spot boy.

FWICE general secretary Ashok Dubey told PTI that it has been a while since the release of Mission Raniganj, Ganapath and Bade Miyan Chote Miyan but workers payment is still held up.

“The workers are helpless. The artist receives money first, but not our workers. It is heartbreaking to see the condition of the workers in the industry; they don’t have job guarantee here. Even when they get to work on a project, they don’t receive the money on time. They have to wait endlessly for months to get their hard earned money,” Dubey said.

Last week, several crew members accused Pooja Entertainment of non-payment of dues and laying off the majority of its staff.

In a media statement, Bhagnani had said people claiming Pooja Entertainment is yet to clear their dues must engage in a conversation with the banner.

"If there are people who claim that we owe them money, they should come forward and talk to us. Do they have a proper contract with Pooja Entertainment? Have they filed a case regarding this? There are so many ways to sort this rather than ranting on social media,” he had said dismissing reports that his production banner was shutting down.

Dubey said workers should get the payment earliest.

“In Marathi films, there’s a rule that if the workers do not get their daily wages from the producers the censor certificate will not be given to the producers, we want the same rule," he added.

Pooja Entertainment has produced hits such as Coolie No. 1, Hero No. 1, Amitabh Bachchan and Govinda’s Bade Miyan Chote Miyan, Kucch Kehna Hai, Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein, Om Jai Jagadish, and Shaadi No. 1, among others in the past but their last few releases have not worked at the box office.

Published 29 June 2024, 07:14 IST

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