Unlock and fly overseas: After Bell Bottom and Lal Singh Chaddha, will more film shoots move out of India?
While the pandemic upended the film industry badly, it is now in the restart mode with several productions trying to get back to normal with resumptions of shoots. Recently, the cast and crew of Bell Bottom, including Akshay Kumar, Huma S Qureshi, headed to the UK to kickstart the shoot, while Aamir Khan is in Turkey to resume the shoot of Laal Singh Chadha. This could very well be a signal that in order to restart work, more such shooting schedules might move out of the country at the moment given the current situation in India.
Admitting that the decision of shifting Laal Singh Chadha’s shooting location was a result of the situation, producer, Ajit Andhare, Chief Operating Officer Viacom18 Studios, says, “Our production plans were very different and we had to recast them and that’s why we have a fresh production schedule and a fresh release date. We are in this completely new place and hopefully we will be able to finish our unfinished film.”
While many productions have resumed in the country at present, Andhare feels that it’s still very challenging in terms of what happens when people contract the virus.
“What these overseas places provide is a far better control and better planning of what you are able to do on a shoot. You can achieve the whole quarantine shoot. They travel together and being encamped together it closes out a big variable for us as a producer and we can take better care of them as opposed to shoot in Mumbai,” he adds.
Shooting in the country would require permissions from various states and that could be a hassle. There are many countries that would be extending invites for shoots to many Bollywood films and many more films will head out, feels trade analyst Atul Mohan, while adding that many producers will lap it up because they have lost half a year and they would not like to delay any further.
“The shoot of Salman Khan’s Radhe is pending and they might make some alterations in the script and find a suitable country and location to shoot. If situation is not that favourable in the country, why waste time here. It is wise to go to a country that is providing all the facilities for shoot, and taking care of entire unit,” Mohan explains, adding that at least filmmakers can keep their projects ready when theatres open.
Shifting of shooting locations would also depend upon the story of the film, and not all films would be able to shift out of the country.
“If particular countries have opened up totally, then of course, shoots can move to those places. But it would all depend on the story. There are some films which have to be shot in the country if it is heartland based stories, they cannot go to UK or other countries. For that producers will have to wait till things are in control here,” says Shibasish Sarkar, Reliance Entertainment CEO.
There are also other countries where a lot of Bollywood productions can move shoot too, including Australia and New Zealand, along with Europe.
“Shooting overseas becomes economical because there are a lot of subsidies that you get. I am sure in many Europe they will be welcoming film crews with subsidies. Even films that have a budget of Rs 10 to 20 crores, even they will end up saving 15- 20 percent by shooting abroad. It is a win-win situation,” says trade expert Joginder Tuteja.
Bell Bottom co-producer, Monisha Advani says that during the complete lockdown, as production houses contemplated restarting shooting, there were considerations and evaluations for shifting shoots to other locations.
“However, for Emmay Entertainment’s part, all our shoots are continuing exactly where they were intended to pre-lockdown. Bell Bottom, our co-production, was always intended to be shot in the UK and has proceeded as planned. Likewise for the shoots of various web shows and films we hope to resume shortly in the coming days in Mumbai, Rajasthan and Lucknow. Prep is on full swing as we mobilise crew members for each of these units. Our priority remains the health & safety of each of our colleagues in front and behind the cameras,” she says.