Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): It is a boom time for theatre artistes in state. The Congress party, BJP and Election Commission (EC) are using their services for producing poll-related TV commercials, advertisements, videos, street plays, campaign material.
About 6,000 artistes including actors, directors, sound recordists, musicians, singers, makeup men and costume designers are engaged in producing content for campaigning in different formats. Though it doesn’t last long, the election season gives them an opportunity to earn extra money.
Theatre director Sadat Bharti with his team has been staging street plays on EC’s behalf. It aims at persuading people to cast vote. “Earlier, street plays were means of activism. Now, professionalism has set in,” he said. Thus, artistes are getting more work than earlier, bringing handsome income to them.
According to Bharti, acting in street plays can fetch Rs 15,000 for the artistes over a period of 10 days. Each puppet show is paid Rs 2,000 - Rs 2,500. The artistes can earn up to Rs 40,000 by producing 10 videos, he added. “In last 25 years, the means of electioneering have remained more or less the same. Only wall graffiti is not used,” Sadat remarked.
According to theatre actor Jyoti Dubey, elections are a big opportunity. She has worked in 250 poll-related videos since 2010. Her clients include state government’s PR department. In the current poll season, Jyoti has worked in seven ad videos, mainly for government that focused on schemes like Ladli Behna, Nal-Jal Yojana.
“We artists have nothing to do with a party or ideology. We work for whichever party gives us assignments,” she says. Theatre actor Adarsh Sharma, who has been working for election campaigning for 20 years, said 6,000 artistes, most of whom are from Bhopal, are doing poll-related work. “We make TV commercials, do voiceovers and so on,” he added.
Sharma who produces campaign material for BJP said payment to artistes depends on their seniority and competence. “We have to take care that those who have featured in commercials made for rival party are not seen in our commercials. That will create problems,” he added.
Theatre artiste Rupesh Tiwari said poll-related work was not permanent. “It is like a bonus for us,” he added. They are paid between Rs 30,000 and Rs 40,000 for each video of 25 to 35 seconds. “It takes two-three days to shoot one video. We chose locations depending on theme,” he remarked.