Scores of small time singers, musicians and workers in the Kannada film industry are economically struck by Covid-19, with their opportunities wiped out and multiple concerts, shows, orchestras and weddings cancelled, said a famous Kannada singer Anuradha Bhat on Wednesday.
“Concerts and shows are a major source of income for the singers but the Covid pandemic has dealt a death blow to the industry. All concerts and shows are cancelled, including movie recordings,” Anuradha Bhat, a Kannada movie industry singer, told IANS.
Chinmai Athreyas, another Kannada singer, who crooned in more than 100 movies, said that shows are a quick way to earn money for a singer beyond movie recordings, which are not as lucrative as shows.
“Many singers here make money through shows. If I am not mistaken, most of the performers worldwide earn through shows, obviously, you get paid more through shows,” said Athreyas.
He said if a singer earns Rs 1 lakh through a recording, he can multiply that remuneration several times through a show which lasts for only about two hours.
At this point in time in the summer of 2020, peak time for entertainment, Anuradha Bhat and Chinmai Athreyas were supposed to be on a concert tour with music director Mano Murthy in the US, but Covid poured cold water on their itinerary.
“But this year, all our shows got cancelled. I was supposed to go to Germany and Kenya for a multi-lingual concert and 10 shows were booked in the US, but all got cancelled,” pointed out Anuradha Bhat.
The first week of lockdown went well like a vacation with Anuradha Bhat, a vocalist originally from Mangaluru, but the continuously extending lockdown took a toll on her spirit and energy, for an artiste who globe-trotted the past decade with her melodies.
“From the past 10 years, I was never sitting at home. I was always on my toes. One week into the lockdown was like a vacation, but now you know, it is getting boring. I don’t know what to do. How many movies can you watch,” she complained.
On a typical day before lockdown, Anuradha Bhat used to visit 2-3 studios to record 3-4 songs and extensively travel for concerts and shows, both locally and globally.
She said musicians who earn in the range of Rs 1,000 per day are finding it difficult to make ends meet. While some Good Samaritans are chipping in to help the affected people, she questioned how long can anybody help?
Not just movies and shows, Athreyas said Utsavas (festivals), temple fairs and other similar celebrations have also been washed out across the state.
“Each city in Karnataka have Utsavas, like Ramanagara Utsava, a village near Mysore has Utsavas. All these celebrations will be halted for a year at least, I am thinking,” he told IANS, observing that people may not return to celebrate until money flows back into their hands and it is safe to venture out.
In addition to the singers, Mayura Raghavendra, a former radio jockey turned movie director, highlighted that daily wagers in the Kannada movie industry are bearing the brunt of Covid no shows.
Technicians, light boys and other small time workers have no work following stalled movie shooting in the past couple of months.
“Don’t know when the shootings will resume, in case the shoots happen, there will be a lot of norms and conditions which everyone has to follow,” observed Mayura Raghavendra.
According to Raghavendra, sanitising a shooting spot will not be an issue for a producer, but doling out health insurance to all the workers will be quite a challenge.
The singer turned filmmaker was partly lucky to achieve theatrical release for his movie ‘Kannad Gothilla’ before the pandemic struck India, but now he is not able to meet a producer for his second film, which has completed its script work.
“My second film scripting has been done, and I was supposed to meet the producer, but now I am not able to meet him at all for the past three months,” he lamented, saying that a virtual Skype call is not as effective as a personal meeting.
Sounding melancholic, the new age Kannada director expressed fears that theatres and multiplexes may not open for business in the next three months and everybody is getting used to Over the Top (OTT) platforms such as Amazon and Netflix.
“Entertainment industry may have taken a pause for the time being, but it is going to hit back. I personally feel there will be an end to this, and I am sure no matter what, the entertainment industry won’t go away,” Raghavendra said.
Echoing Raghavendra, Anuradha Bhat is also clueless about the revival of shootings, recordings, concerts, shows and other forms of entertainment and called 2020 by the moniker ‘digital year’.
Athreyas advocated hope for the industry and artists, saying a small wave has to go away to make way for a bigger wave to come in.
He also said people should step in to encourage and support local artistes.
“People definitely want entertainment, without listening to a good song my day is incomplete. May be people can be more supportive of artiste,” he said.