Is the film industry prepared to handle the Omicron variant?
While some believe that the industry is well-equipped to handle an impending lockdown, others say that the showbiz will be ‘in a big mess’
The last two years saw the Hindi film industry incur huge losses, with shoots being stalled and theatres shutting down due to the pandemic. It was only in September that things resumed in full swing. But now, with the threat of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 looming large, the industry has once again come face-to-face with the big question: How to not let history repeat?
Sharing his concern, filmmaker Anees Bazmee says, “The budget for most films made has increased by 40% due to the adoption of several SOPs and facilitation of vaccination for everyone. The very thought of a third lockdown is giving me jitters. We all will be in a big mess because no one is prepared.”
Asserting that the third wave, if one, will severely impact show business, producer Amar Butala, says, “There is no way to measure the loss of opportunity given that the Christmas and New Year window sees huge footfalls in cinemas, and if we were to lose this window, it would mean we’ve pretty much lost 2021.”
Producer Shaailesh R Singh, who is currently shooting in Omicron hotspot South Africa, says that the unit has gone prepared for the worst: “No extra guidelines have been issued to us. We don’t feel the looming fear of the Omicron variant since we’re in a protected environment.”
Actor Nushrratt Bharuccha, on the other hand, feels one can deal with shoots being stopped and that health should come first. “No one will be prepared for another wave. However, even if work comes to a standstill, we’ll eventually bounce back by working double shifts just like we did after the lockdown was lifted,” she shares.
Actor Shruti Haasan, who has been working most of 2020 and 2021, adds, “Some people think that I’m completely mental. Many of them don’t wear masks on set. But I tell myself that I rather be the paranoid one because we’ve to work and be super safe at the same time.”
Trade analyst Atul Mohan says that many production houses have a process in place to survive another obstacle. “The industry is more prepared than last time. Though much precaution isn’t taken in the smaller production houses as they’ve a ‘chalta hai’ attitude, the big ones are making sure that they carry shoots forward only after all cast and crew members are vaccinated,” he ends.