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Freelancers in Chennai stuck in financial limbo

With the lockdown extending into April, those working from home are relieved to find their bank accounts replenished once more to tackle the weeks ahead.

Freelancers in Chennai stuck in financial limbo
Harini Sarathy (left) and Vishnu Priya


However, this sentiment is not shared by freelancers in the city, most very young, who find themselves in a state of creative, emotional and financial limbo during the shutdown. While freelancing has its perks, one thing that working independently does not have is the support of corporations, say freelancers. As they operate financially from a gig-to-gig basis, this shutdown has put a screeching halt to all job prospectus. “I used to work 20 days of the month on various make-up gigs. However, all of them, including the weddings I was working with, are either postponed to the end of the year or indefinitely. I used to take weekly classes on make-up, and those have stopped too, as doing them over Zoom or Skype does not make the process any easier,” said freelance make-up artist Vishnu Priya.

Freelancers usually take up and execute jobs on a fast cycle, and thus there is little scope for pre-planning. “Events which offer lump-sum amounts, like weddings, are also cancelled. I specialise in fashion photography, and that is impossible now.

Product shoots, too, are difficult as they are not priority goods to be delivered to my house. This has me in a really bad situation, and I am not sure if I’ll be able to financially sustain if the shutdown is extended,” said Harini Sarathy, a freelance photographer.

This has freelancers dipping into their savings to sustain themselves through the shutdown.But according to Sarathy, these funds are fast depleting and is not a viable long-term solution. Silver linings are faint, they said, but must be considered to get through the financial hardship.

“One boon is that since all other services are shut, my only expense is groceries, internet and electricity. I live with my parents, so rent is taken care of. So, while the inflow of money is gone, at least spending is also forcibly stopped,” said Priya.

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