LAHORE: Akram Rahi, a film artiste for the last 15 years, has worked in more than 50 films — still awaits the day when people will know his name.
He is one of the many ‘extras’, without whom no film would ever be complete but regardless of this fact, they hardly get any recognition.
When films are not being made, it is the extras in Lollywood, along with technicians, who suffer the most. While mainstream film stars can switch over to television or modelling in the absence of films, these extras struggle to make both ends meet.
Rahi says he runs a small khokha which helps him deal with financial difficulties. “An extra’s job is very tough. You keep working in films hoping that one day your luck will change but in most cases it never happens. In addition to this there are many films which weren’t released.”
When asked what his greatest achievement was, Rahi replied, “Artistes know me. I feel really happy when I meet senior artistes on a film set and they ask me about my work and make small talk.”
While in most cases men are paid more than women, the rule changes when it comes to film extras.
Muhammad Adrees, a film extra contractor, said, “The daily wage of a normal category young male extra is Rs300 while the daily wage for a young female extra of the same category is Rs1,000 to Rs1,500.” The daily wage for an A grade male extra ranges from Rs600 to Rs1000.
Extras are arranged by contractors or middle men according to a director’s preference.
Rahi said, “If the producer or director pays me Rs300 then I have to give Rs200 to the contractor and I only keep Rs100 as my fee. This is because they arrange for my transport to and from the set and also for my food.”
Ashfaq Ahmad has been an extra for 12 years and said that he is now considered a an A grade extra but still, “The amount is not enough as sometimes you don’t get work for weeks. I work as a vendor when I don’t get any work.”
While there are associations of producers, filmmakers and artistes in Lollywood, there aren’t any associations for extras. And though mainstream film associations claim to work for the betterment of these extras, there have never been any steps taken to regularise their wages or provide them with any benefits.
Lollywood films that couldn’t meet deadlines
There are six long-awaited Lollywood films which were supposed to release in 2010 but now have been shifted to 2011.
These films are Price of Honour by Syed Noor, Bol by Shoaib Mansoor, Reema’s Love Main Gum, Bhai Log by Javed Fazil, Tamana by British director Steve Moore and Saltanat by Faisal Bokhari.
Price of Honour deals with the subject of honor killing in Pakistan and most of it has been shot in Rahim Yar Khan. The cast of the film comprises of the new actors which were chosen for different roles from a talent hunt show.
Tamana features Salman Shahid, Feryal Gauhar, Hameed Sheikh and Irfan Khan, while Love Main Gum has been written by Pervaz Kaleem and the lead roles are being played by Reema, Moammar Rana, model Nabeel Khan, Iraida who hails from Azerbaijan and famous Indian comedian, Johnny Lever.
Bhai Log by Faisal Bokhari stars Saima, Moammar Rana, Javed Sheikh, as well as Nadeem Beg who will appear in a Lollywood film after a long time.
Much awaited film Bol talks about the plight of women and stars Atif Aslam, Mahira Khan, Iman Ali and Shafqat Cheema in the lead roles while Saltanat by Faisal Bokhari talks about gang wars. No reason has been given for the delays — neither have future release dates been announced.
No reason has been given for the delays — neither have future release dates been announced.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 28th, 2010.
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