Fresh Covid wave grips Bollywood: What’s the way forward?

globalmovie     19 Mar,2021         No Comment

Fresh Covid wave grips Bollywood: What’s the way forward?CollageMaker_20210319_204749595

With several working actors such as Ranbir Kapoor and Manoj Bajpayee being diagnosed Covid positive, is there a potential shut down in the offing for the film industry again? We talk to makers and experts to know the sentiment within the industry.
The film industry has braved it all in the past one year, when the Covid 19 lockdown shut down operations. The latter half saw work resuming in bits and pieces, with actors back on sets. However, of late, a sudden spurt in cases such as Ranbir Kapoor (who was shooting for Luv Ranjan’s next), Tara Sutaria (who has tested negative now), Satish Kaushik, Sidhant Chaturvedi and Manoj Bajpayee have led to fears again- will this lead to another potential shut down?

CRUCIAL TIMES FOR THEATRES

Industry people at large deny any such happening. “Vaccinations have begun, I hope cases will come down. People are going all out to release their films too. I guess we will have to wait and watch how that unfolds. One film, Roohi released last week. There are two releases again set for March 19, it will be a crucial week. The industry is bleeding,”

For a maker’s point of view, who has worked throughout the pandemic, we reach out to Madhur Bhandarkar. He wrapped up the entire shoot of his next, India Lockdown, from start to finish. He says, “I am a very optimistic person, I personally think it won’t get to a shut down until the state governments say anything. It may lower the speed of shooting. I completed my film in 20-30 days, in various locations across Mumbai, and touchwood, everything was fine. We took all precautionary measures.”

While the speed with which shoots are resuming and projects are being announced will slow down, the director adds, “The impact will be on theatres. People are still not sure whether to go theatres or not. People are taking vaccine, but overall it will be slow.”

SHUT DOWN NOT FEASIBLE FOR WORKERS

Echoing the same sentiment as Bhandarkar is Hansal Mehta, who recently announced the second season of his show Scam. “I don’t think the industry will shut down again. What the need of the hour is, is to be cautious and careful. We had reached a point where we were very careless. I don’t think anybody can afford a shut down anymore,” says the 52-year-old.

Producer Anand Pandit, who has two projects in the pipeline Chehre and The Big Bull, feels that when a project shuts down, or shoots get impacted, several workers suffer. “Covid is becoming part of our lives, everybody says ’14-15 din mein vaapis aa jaaunga’. They are treating it like cold. Doctors are experienced and equipped, know what to do. Kab tak band rakhenge? If one shoots stops, 500 workers don’t get their daily bread. I understand that if the lead actor or director gets Covid, then shoot gets hampered a bit, that’s the only thing,” he reasons.

In fact, during his meetings, Pandit reveals, artistes don’t take Covid into account. “Announcements of new films is not going to be impacted. I am meeting many stars and directors, nobody talks about Covid, except the number of cases rising. They say ‘script kahaan hai’,” he says.

various worker associations have already sent out notices, advising artistes to not take things lightly. “Associations have issues guidelines for producers and directors, due to the recent rise in cases. They have requested them to follow strict guidelines. As the days were progressing, protocols on set were taken off. The ‘chalta hai’ attitude had come in. I don’t think it would be good to blame and say those actors contracted the virus during shoots only though. If some artistes get diagnosed, the makers can skip that actor for a particular schedule and shoot with others in the meanwhile,” he says.

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