While the production house says he is no longer a part of the show because of his unprofessional behaviour, the actor insists that he has not been able to resume the shoot owing to the COVID-19 situation. Read on…

Rajan Shahi: The behaviour of unprofessional people should be called out

Two weeks ago, TV producer Rajan Shahi said in an interview that one of his lead actors was demanding an exorbitant fee hike and behaving unprofessionally in these times of COVID-19. Rajan refused to name the person and since then, there has been constant speculation about who the actor is, especially because currently, Rajan’s production house has three prime-time shows on air. All rumours have now been put to rest because we have got to know that the actor is Ritvik Arora, who plays Kunal Rajvansh in ‘Yeh Rishtey Hain Pyaar Ke’. When we spoke to Rajan, he confirmed the news. So, what went wrong between Ritvik and the production house?

Rajan says, “A few weeks ago our supervising producer Vivek Jain called Ritvik. He said he could start shooting from July 1, but we should first speak to his father. That itself was unprofessional because he’s the actor, who has signed a contract with us. Yet, Vivek called his father, who asked for a raise in his remuneration, almost double of what he was being paid, and also a minimum 25-day work guarantee. What’s really wrong is the way he communicated it saying, ‘Don’t even think of calling back if you want to negotiate’. After this, Vivek reached out to Ritvik again, and even this time, he told us to speak to his father.”

Rajan says he has always been open to discussion if anybody wants to relook at certain clauses in their contract. “Sometimes an actor or a technician may have some concerns and want a change in certain clauses. These things happen, but they have to be discussed proactively. I have always been approachable. But for someone to say that don’t even think of calling if you want to negotiate… negotiate what? You are going against the contract! When they were asked to send an email on this, they started dilly-dallying. A few days later, Ritvik’s father started sending apology messages for laying down those conditions and tried to blame things on the COVID situation. However, we have a record of all communication exchanged.”

Rajan adds, “We have been very accommodating with actors who have genuine COVID concerns. If an actor wants to opt out of a show, we totally understand. But the behaviour of unprofessional people, who hold a production house to ransom, should be called out. In the case of Ritvik, there was a problem even last year when he didn’t turn up for shoot for a day and he was not reachable on phone, and we suffered losses. He apologised later in writing and we gave him another chance then.”

Meanwhile, the production house is in the process of shortlisting an actor to replace Ritvik. “No matter how popular an actor maybe, it’s his work ethic and professionalism that is of paramount importance to me. If that is not there, I don’t mind replacing him,” says Rajan.

Ritvik Arora: It wasn’t about the money, my family was concerned for me

According to Ritvik, COVID-19 is the main reason why he isn’t returning to Mumbai from Delhi. He says, “My uncle passed away recently because of coronavirus, so obviously, everyone in my family is worried. Then we learnt about actor Parth Samthaan testing positive, which further

fuelled their apprehensions.”

Ask him about his father’s demands for a pay hike, and he replies, “I first received a call from Rajan Sir in May, asking me when I would be able to resume the shoot. I informed him about my uncle passing away and said that I needed some time. I asked my father to take the communication ahead with the production house, as I was deeply affected by my uncle’s death. A few days later, Vivekji called me, and I told my father to talk to him and decide whether I should go to Mumbai to shoot. I am their only son and they were anxious because I would be living alone in Mumbai. I didn’t know about the conversation that transpired between my father and them. After I learnt about it, I told my father that he was wrong in asking for a pay hike. However, he didn’t ask them to double my money, he asked for a minor hike thinking that it would serve as a deterrent and they wouldn’t call me to Mumbai. My father was willing to send me to shoot from July 1, as he thought things would get better. He called them several times to clear the air, but our calls went unanswered. I asked him to apologise through messages and on mail. In his apology, my father stated that it wasn’t about the money, but about my safety and well-being. I totally understand their decision to not respond. However, I can vouch that my father wasn’t rude, nor did he tell them to not call him for negotiation. In fact, I received a mail from them on July 7 asking me when I would return. I didn’t want to commit to a date as I wasn’t sure if I would be able to stick to it, owing to the ongoing crisis. So, I wrote a mail stating that as of now, I don’t plan to return to Mumbai. There is absolutely no reason for me to leave the show because it’s such a good opportunity. This is a case of miscommunication and misunderstanding.”

About the incident that took place last year, when he went missing from the shoot for a day, he says, “Back then, there were issues from both sides. I don’t want to delve into it, because it’s in the past. In my submission, all I want to say is that if I was so unprofessional, they wouldn’t have retained me.”

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