Lights, camera, action time again, as B-Town looks to get back at work
As Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray asks entertainment industry to prepare plan to restart work, we chat with filmmakers to find out what could be the way forwardUpdated: May 24, 2020 23:38 IST
There have been no lights, camera or action on film/television shooting sets since mid-March when the nationwide lockdown came into force. But now, there seems to be a glimmer of hope, after Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s couple of meetings with entertainment industry representatives and producers wherein he has asked them to prepare an action plan on limited resumption of film shooting and post-production activities.
But then, the big question comes up: is it practically possible to start film/TV shoots with a cast-and-crew of 30-40 people as compared to about 400 of them? Filmmaker Ali Abbas Zafar, for one, feels that we “should patiently wait for 2-3 months before thinking of getting back on the sets.”
Ask Zafar why and he says there’s “too much risk.” He explains: “Even if you shoot with 50-70 people [in total], what if one person gets infected? Then, there are technical issues. How do you shoot scenes without two or more actors being in close proximity? What if DoP wants to take a close-up shot of an actor? However, the post-production work can surely start while taking all the precautions and minimum staff.”
A number of films such as Salman Khan’s Radhe, Aamir Khan’s Laal Singh Chadha, Sanjay Gupta-directed Mumbai Saga, Zafar’s Khaali Peeli, Bunty Aur Babli 2, Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2, had started off but are stuck at various stages due to the lockdown.
“There’s no doubt that safety of cast-and-crew will always come first. So, if shootings re-start, of course, there will be loads of challenges but you have to do something and start somewhere as something is better than nothing. Remember we’ve daily wage labourers and others whose livelihoods are at stake,” says producer Bhushan Kumar.
Gupta, who has just about three-four days of work left on his film, says he plans to wrap up the film as soon as the lockdown is over and permission come in. “There are going to be some guidelines, which we all will adhere to. I’ve always said that nowadays, when you walk on a [Hindi] film set, there are just too many people — on an average, 300-350 of them. Now, we won’t have a choice but to go back to the old working style of not having more than 30-40 people. But unfortunately, it means that people such as spot boys, junior artists and caterers etc. will be badly hit,” says Gupta.
Kumar opines that if permissions come in, some smaller films, TV shows or patch work shoots, which require smaller units, can “possibly start first.” “But big films that require 200 people and big action sequences etc. will have to wait. But the post-production work can surely start since that happens within an office and a controlled environment,” he says. Zafar puts things in perspective at the end on a lighter note: “See, the safest way-out will be to write ‘Corona-specific scripts’, but it will take away the whole fun,” he says.
Besides multi-starrers such as Takht and Shakun Batra’s next (starring Deepika Padukone, Ananya Panday and Siddhant Chaturvedi) that are yet to go on floors, there are several other biggies including Ayan Mukerji-directed Brahmastra, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Gangubai Kathiawadi, Akshay Kumar-starrer Prithviraj, Ajay Devgn’s Maidaan, Aamir Khan’s Laal Singh Chadha and Ranbir Kapoor starrer Shamshera etc. are stuck either due to no-shooting status or post production work.