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Monday, March 15, 2010

38-year-old producer dies under stress from DD Kashir

530 J&K producers being forced to cough up Crores on Srinagar-Delhi shuttling

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Mar 13: While Doordarshan is forcing 530 freelance television producers, based in Kashmir valley and Jammu, to spend Crores of Rupees on account of shuttling between the state and the union capital in connection with the commissioned programmes of DD Kashir, scores of the filmmakers in trouble have fallen in deep stress and agony. After he found his programme allotted to a different producer, 38-year-old veteran producer Syed Gulzar Rizvi died of cardiac arrest at his home in Budgam last month.

Syed Gulzar Rizvi was a 38-year-old producer running entire livelihood of himself and his family on the television productions which he continued to pursue in the worst times of Kashmir insurgency in early 1990s. Even after doing his masters from University of Kashmir in Journalism and Mass Communication and even after getting selected for government job twice---last time on January first 2010---Rizvi had made filmmaking as his full-time profession.

Five years back, Rizvi was among 36 producers who had been selected and allotted 26 episodes of a Kashmiri fiction in the toughest ever competition by DD Kashir. Even after the producers were invited for executing agreement, DD revoked the allotment of all the 36 producers, putting them to grave stress and never-ending legal battle. In October 2009, Rizvi received a letter from DD Kashir, which informed him that three episodes of a programme, never submitted by him, had been allotted in his favour.

He made repeated representations and more than 20 telephonic calls to Senior Director of DD Kashir, Ananya Banerjee, that his proposal had been completely “hijacked” and allotted to a different producer. He made it repeatedly clear that he was a contender for a fiction of 13 episodes on Kashmir’s legendary romantic poet, Rasool Mir, but instead had been directed to make three episodes of a documentary film on Mir Shahabadi. “The proposal has been considered under non-fiction category as per the subject”, mentions the remarks column of Rizvi at serial No: 311 of the List of allottee producers available on DD’s website.

After failing to get any positive response from Ms Banerjee, whose mobile phone has received over 20 of the aggrieved producer’s calls, Rizvi suffered a massive heart attack during the night intervening February 8th and 9th and he died in utter haplessness at his home in Dadina village of Budgam district. He had absolutely no medical history of any disease. “He fell in severe shock and stress after he received a letter from Doordarshan in October or November. Thereafter, he did not smile till he died of heart attack under severe stress”, Rizvi’s brother Syed Mohammad said.

By way of retaining DD Kashir headquarters at Mandi House in New Delhi, DD authorities have forced as many as 530 producers, based in Jammu & Kashmir, to spend Crores of Rupees on account of their shuttling between Srinagar/Jammu-Delhi in connection with submission of proposals, personal presentation, execution of agreements, submission of rough cuts, submission of final tapes and release of payment. On an average, each producer has to make at least 5 trips to New Delhi and average cost on each trip is around Rs 30,000. By this calculation, every single allottee producer is forced to spend Rs 1.50 lakh. DD Kashir has taken presentation of 530 producers based in Kashmir and Jammu in the current process of commissioning of programmes for 2009-10 at Mandi House.

Enquiries revealed that highest authorities in Government of India have issued orders as many as three times in the last 10 years for shifting of the DD Kashir headquarters from New Delhi to Srinagar but a mafia of vested interest and brokers have never allowed implementation of such orders. Seven years back, then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had personally got a clear-cut order issued on emergency basis on Sunday but that too was never implemented.

Earlier during PM’s visit, his Media Advisor Sudheendra Kulkarni had assured a representative delegation of J&K literary icons, producers and artists that it was “the country’s commitment to you”. Vajpayee made it part of his written announcement distributed at the news conference at Srinagar Airport. Still, DD Kashir headquarters were never shifted to Srinagar.


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