The 2nd of August 1953 was a historic day for Cinematographers working in the Bombay Film Industry. A small group gathered at the Embassy Theatre to attend a meeting convened by Mr.V. Avadhut. It was the very first meeting of Cinematographers and it was at this meeting that the idea of a formal association was mooted.The Association would provide Cinematographers with a common platform where they could discuss their problems, exchange views and generally be of help to each other. Mr. Rajnikant C. Pandya suggested that a regional body be formed instead of an All India body and be named as the Western India Cinematographers’ Society. The new society included cameramen working in Bombay, Poona and Kolhapur and was ultimately named as the Western India Society of Cinematographers.
Mr. Fardoon Irani was in the chair and most of the top Camerapersons of the time were present. The first meeting of the Western India Society of Cinematographers was held at the Shree Sound Studios, Dadar, Mumbai on 5th Sept., 1953. Office bearers were elected and a draft constitution was adopted.
The office bearers elected were Shri Nitin Bose as President, Mr. V. Avadhut as Vice President, Mr. Krishan Gopal as Secretary and Mr. Radhu Karmakar as Treasurer.
The members of the first Executive body were Mr. Rajnikant C. Pandya, Mr. Dwarka Khosla, Mr. Surinder K. Pai, Mr. Prahlad Dutt, Mr. Ratanlal Nagar, Mr. Rajender Malone, Mr. M.R. Jaywant, Mr. R.D. Mathur, Mr. Ajay Kar, Mr.Vasant Bua and Mr. Rustom Master.
Working as a Society, Western India Society of Cinematographers found that it was unable to effectively solve the various problems of its members. It was felt that these could be handled better if the Society registered itself as a Trade Union. At the 39th meeting of the Executive Committee it was decided to re-organise the Society as a Trade Union. On 30th April, 1955 the Registrar of Trade Unions Bombay State, registered the Society under Indian Trade Union Act 1926, as the Western India Cinematographers’ Association. The registered office was at Shree Sound Studios, Dadar, Bombay.
The first General Body Meeting of the newly formed Western India Cinematographers’ Association was held on 28th May, 1955 at Shree Sound Studios. Office bearers and members of the Executive Committee were elected by ballot for the first time.
The office bearers elected were Mr. Nitin Bose as President, Mr. Gordhanbhai Patel as Vice-President, Mr. Krishan Gopal as General Secretary and Mr. Radhu Karmakar as Treasurer.
The members of the Managing Committee were Mr. V. Avadhut, Mr. Rajanikant C. Pandya, Mr. Rustom P. Master, Mr. Dronacharya, Mr. R.D. Mathur, Mr. S.S. Verma, Mr. K.S. Gupte, Mr. M.N. Malhotra, Mr. Babubhai Mistry, Mr. Jaywant Pathare, Mr. Taru Dutt, Mr. Rajendra Malone and Mr. M.M. Vaidya .
The constitution was adopted.
The various ‘disciplines’ within the film industry followed WICA’s example and started forming various Trade Unions. At their 8th meeting, WICA’s Managing Committee mooted the idea of a Federation of all Film Unions in Bombay. On 28th Feb. 1957 a Federation of Western India Cine Employees was formed.
The journey since has been of consolidation and challenges.
Many a leading cinematographers have contributed to the effort and served on its committees.
Prominent names on its roster include Mr. Jal Mistry, Mr. Fali Mistry, Mr. V K Murthy, Mr. Dwarka Divecha, Mr. Dharam Chopra, Mr. Nariman Irani, Mr. K. Vaikunth, Mr. Jaywant Pathare, Mr. Kamal Bose, Mr. R.D. Mathur , Mr. Subroto Mitra and in recent times, Mr. Govind Nihalani, Mr. R.M. Rao, Mr. A.K. Bir, Mr. K.K. Mahajan, Mr. Barun Mukherjee and Mr. Binod Pradhan amongst many others.
Special mention needs to be made of the last President elect of WICA, Mr. Ashok Mehta, who took a lot of personal initiative to move the office premises of WICA from Shree Sound Studios to its current location in a commercial complex in Oshiwara, Andheri W, Mumbai.
WICA today represents the complete spectrum of personnel who work as ‘Camera Crew’ including Camera Assistants, Focus Pullers, Operators of Specialised Camera mounts, Camera Attendants. The Association has a total strength of 3,800 plus members.
WICA turned 60 this year and the current Managing Committee is committed to rejuvenating its work ethic. Every member is invited to contribute towards this effort, by being responsive and responsible.