Fragile Livelihoods in India’s Entertainment Industry: Balika Vadhu Director Now Sells Vegetables

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Fragile Livelihoods in India’s Entertainment Industry: Balika Vadhu Director Now Sells Vegetables

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

The coronavirus pandemic has affected the livelihoods of millions of Indians over the last year, affecting even industries with a reputation for being lucrative. Several employees and technicians of the Bollywood and TV industry, for instance, have been stuck with no paychecks and no word on when shoots will resume since March. Ram Vriksha Gaur, a director of the super popular TV show Balika Vadhu, is one of the names on that list. According to reports, Gaur, who is from Uttar Pradesh, has been spending his lockdown selling vegetables in Azamgarh to make ends meet.

Gaur had initially travelled to Azamgarh from Mumbai for the recce of a film earlier this year. “We were here when the lockdown was announced and then it was not possible to return. The project we were working on was stopped and the producer said it would take another year or more to get back to work,” he told reporters, highlighting how tenuous the lives of those in the supposed “glamour industry” are.

At that point, Gaur decided it was best to take up his father’s business, and went back to selling vegetables on a handcart along with his son, who is in Class XI. “I am familiar with the business and have no regrets,” he was quoted as saying.

But Gaur’s life was very different a few months ago. After working as an Assistant Director on several projects, Gaur got his big break with the popular TV show. Before moving back to UP, he was all set to direct a Bhojpuri film, followed by a Hindi film.

Gaur’s story has now caught the attention of his former colleagues, notably Anup Soni, one of the actors in the series, who offered to help the director on Twitter.

Still there doesn’t seem to be much Soni can do, considering there is no clarity on when the pandemic will end, and shoots will resume. Hopefully, Gaur will be able to return to his Mumbai home soon, but as of now, he seems to be just another casualty of the last seven months of lockdown.

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