Lights, Camera, Precautions: Industry reacts to shoots resuming in Maharashtra

From being happy that work will finally resume across films, television and the web in Maharashtra, to being apprehensive about some guidelines laid down by the government, here’s what experts, film association heads and makers feel about the decision.
Shooting for films, television and web is set to begin in Maharashtra.
Shooting for films, television and web is set to begin in Maharashtra.
Updated on Jun 05, 2020 07:27 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByRishabh Suri, New Delhi

In what has naturally come as a big sigh of relief for makers across all formats — television, films and the web, Maharashtra government this week allowed shoots across the state to resume. A list of guidelines too were issued ,which include shooting only in non-containment zones. Producers will have to apply to managing director of the Maharashtra Film, Theatre, Cultural Development Corporation, the Dadasaheb Phalke Chitranagari in Goregaon, Mumbai, and to district collectors outside Mumbai for resuming shootings.  

Ashoke Pandit, chief advisor, Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) says there are two guidelines which they think won’t be possible to be followed — not allowing people above the age of 65 on set, and having an ambulance and doctor on every set. “I am thankful to the government of Maharashtra who are saving the industry which is in a state of despair. The two major issues however are — not allowing anyone above the age of 65 on set. That is impossible, we don’t want (actors like) Amitabh Bachchan to sit at home. And not just senior actors, we have senior technicians too. The basic criteria should be they are healthy and all tests positive. The second issue is we have been asked to keep an ambulance and nurse on every set. It’s a state of emergency, patients are having to walk to hospital because there are no ambulances. You need them at places of emergency. On an average, we used to have about 70-80 shoots a day. It will slowly pick up now. So even if on an average, we have 30 shoots a day, will 30 ambulances and doctors be available? It’s not possible,” he tells us. 


Trade analyst Taran Adarsh says that the world is divided into two parts now — BC (Before Corona) and AC (After Corona). “These guidelines are for the betterment of the industry people themselves. At any point of time, there used to be 100-150 people on a set, depending on the sequences being shot.Things are different today. But the important segment who is going to be a stakeholder in the entire thing are the actors. Ask them, whether they are ready to come on sets. Of course they want to complete the pending assignments I am not denying that, but even they want safety, right,” he reasons.


Director Milap Zaveri was all set to begin shooting for Satyameva Jayate 2 with John Abraham, when the lockdown was announced in March. Now that shoots are resuming, we ask him whether he is ready to go on floors. “We were prepared before the lockdown began,” he says, “Now that permission has been granted, I will sit with the producers and chalk out the best way to get on floors as soon as possible. The intent is to get shooting sooner rather than later.” On when is the earliest they can resume shooting, Zaveri confesses that isn’t clear as of now. 


There has been one guideline for the casting directors too - whenever possible, cast actors remotely via video calls, and real families should be used so that physical contact is restricted. Abhishek Banerjee, actor and casting director for films, says, “We need to do as much work possible without meeting or having direct contact. It will somewhere make us smarter. I also know many actors who have cold feet while giving auditions. Maybe home auditions might take the pressure off. And the age restrictions part, it all depends on the makers. No matter what, we cannot risk anybody. Casting directors, actors, everybody needs to be a responsible citizen, no matter how creative you are or the film/ script demands it.”


Sushant Singh, actor and Honorary General Secretary of Cine & TV Artists Association (CINTAA), says there are a lot of ‘grey areas’. “The committee is discussing to give feedback to the government as some guidelines might not be practical. I won’t mention them right now. Plus we need to settle the payments, as TV works on a 90 day cycle, which now cannot continue. There are previous payments, then the artists have not worked for the last two months, and already awaiting previous payments. When they start working again now, it will be without money, so effectively it will be three-four months more, it won’t be possible,” he voices his concern.


Another guideline mentions that there can’t be more than 33%of crew members on set at a time. Trade expert Atul Mohan says that this shouldn’t be a problem as earlier too, films used to have limited number of people on set. “There’s a lot of money after the corporates came in, everything has to be done the international way. Earlier, the cameraman himself used to load the reel, shift the camera, there used to be only one guy for production, only two-three spotboys. Earlier actors used to come with just one persona attendant, now actors come with a crew of six-seven people, and each of them takes at least Rs 10-15,000 rupees for one shift, that’s apart from the actor’s fees, and the producers are made to pay,” he says.

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