Actors testing positive did send some shockwaves, affected the work flow, but show must go on, say fraternity members
Everyone breathed a sigh of relief when the shoots for TV and web projects resumed last month and several actors stepped out to finish pending dubbing work for films and web shows. However, things took a turn when actors Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan, Parth Samthaan and some crew members on the sets of a few TV shows tested positive for Covid-19. Given them most of them were at work when they contracted the virus, the industry did take a short pause, both work and earning wise, but the show must go on, say industry insiders.
JD Majethia, Chairman, TV & web, Indian Film & Television Producers’ Council, says that huge losses have been incurred as the industry was shut for three months. “Producers got a cut of 15-25% from broadcasters, even cast and crew have taken cuts. Now, we need to continue working to churn revenues,” he says.
However, Majethia isn’t discounting the risk exists. “Out of 8,000 plus people working at various levels, the number of positive cases on sets till now has been just about four or five. People are getting infected at other work places too. So, we were prepared for such a situation. And as days are progressing, we’ve become extra cautious,” he adds.
On why it was crucial to resume work even after some actors tested positive, Chloe Qureshi, Creative producer at Balaji Telefilms Ltd, says it was a matter of survival for many. “We must continue. When Parth tested positive, we got everyone’s test done and now we’re back at work,” she adds.
The TV industry, according to sources, has lost business of about 400 crore, as far as content is concerned and therefore, makers have decided that work will continue till Maharashtra government instructs otherwise.
Trade expert Atul Mohan shares, “Only 5-10% work has resumed (on TV and web), and 10-15 % revenue has started coming overall. Once film shoots start, this might go up to 25% with the projects that were stuck finally moving out of the way. But then with actors testing positive, there’s a sense of fear among many who’re reconsidering their decision to get back to work.”
Vikram Malhotra, producer and CEO, Abundantia Entertainment that did post production for their web series Breathe, which involved actors Abhishek Bachchan and Amit Sadh going out for dubbing, admits that it did play on their minds too, but the show must go on.
“For producers, exhibitors and distributors, it’s a no revenue period. Everything has been under limbo for last few months, and might remain so, in the coming times. The minimum percentage of work that has started needs to continue. Thankfully we completed post production of Shakuntala Devi on time and have even started working on Durgavati for now,” he informs.
According to trade analyst Komal Nahta, barely 5% of the entertainment industry has mustered the courage to resume shoots. “It’s a question of survival. Approximately, till now the film industry has lost about 5,000 crore. And now with films going to OTT, producers are making 15-20% profit or at least recovering the cost that’s enough for such unprecedented times,” he says, adding that with a few people getting infected, it won’t stop anything for now.
While recent incidents did raise an alarm, Ashoke Pandit, chief advisor, FWICE, and president, Indian Film & Television Directors’ Association feels some people are just over reacting. “We need to understand that only Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan etc aren’t just a part of the industry. I understand they being tested positive did send a shockwave but then only five percent of work in totality has started. We need to start earning revenues now,” he says.
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Author tweets @Shreya_MJ