Big fat Punjabi weddings are a passé now, blame it on the pandemic. Once the budget of wedding photography used to run in crores in Amritsar offering employment to a large number of professionals, but now, the profession is seeing a steep downturn due to the Covid-19 pandemic for the last one-and-a-half years.
Restrictions imposed in the wake of Covid-19 such as not having more than 20 persons at a marriage ceremony, unable to travel in flights or trains have made once big fat Punjabi wedding a pygmy affair.
There are hundreds of photo studios in the city catering to wedding photography. Nearly 20 of these cater to high-end marriages engaging them for Rs 2 lakh and above. So, the high-end shops used to engage 10 to 20 persons to discharge the job efficiently. Barring a few, a majority of them have retrenched their staff.
Vijay Malhotra, running two photo studios in the city, said those families who used to spend Rs 2 lakh and above on photography and cinematic shooting stretching for 10 days have now brought it down to one or two-day affair. He said he is paying salaries to all his 15 employees, but this cannot be afforded by all photo studios.
NRI weddings and people from agriculture background used to form a major chunk of customers. Air travel restrictions brought down their arrival. Major embargo on not more than 20 persons in the wedding has taken away locals as well, who are now investing their money in giving gifts of gold ornaments and fixed deposits.
Earlier, these families used to invest in asking for pre-wedding shoots, four-k quality cinematic candid shoot, equal to shooting a Bollywood movie. Candid photography was another genre in which persons used to be clicked in their natural background without their prior intimation.
Similarly, the 10-day long wedding programme has been reduced to a two-day affair. Earlier, wedding celebrations used to start with a bangle ceremony, DJ night or ladies sangeet, then bachelorette party, mehandi shoot, dress shoot, parlour or make-up shoot, ribbon cutting, milni, sehrabandi, baraat, jai mala and phere among others.
Rakeshwar Sharma, whose family is operating a photo studio on a prime commercial location Crystal Chowk for the last over five decades, said many families were conducting the wedding in a day. “Now, no bill amount crosses the Rs 30,000 mark. With this amount in hand, I cannot afford to keep the staff of seven persons. So, all of them have been laid off,” he said. Each cameramen is equipped with superior quality cameras costing Rs6lakh and above. With paltry liquidity, it is not economically viable to engage men and material.