Bank up! TV show shoots, scripts dictated by stress of third wave

TV industry, after being one of the worst hit during the second wave, now wants to be better prepared amid the pandemic. Shows such as Bhabi Ji Ghar Par Hai, Kuch Rang Pyar ke Aise Bhi, and Choti Sarrdaarni are making episode banks, writing stories with lesser characters and even arranging accommodation of crew members to avoid infection.
TV show makers such as those of Bhabi Ji Ghar Par Hai (above) are banking episodes in fear of a third wave of Covid-19.
TV show makers such as those of Bhabi Ji Ghar Par Hai (above) are banking episodes in fear of a third wave of Covid-19.
Updated on Jul 17, 2021 08:43 PM IST
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ByAnjuri Nayar Singh, New Delhi

During the second wave of Covid-19, the television industry was clearly one of the worst hit with TV show units being forced to move the shoots outside Mumbai. Some production houses had no option but to shut shop. Now, however, in anticipation of a third wave in the pandemic, the TV fraternity seems to be have taken the reins in their hands and is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that they continue to work smoothly. From creating episode banks, to scripting with less characters and even making accommodations available for the crew, they are doing it all!

“I do fear another lockdown,” says Binaiferr Kohli, producer of on air TV shows such as Bhabi Ji Ghar Par Hai!, Happu Ki Ultan Paltan, and Jijaji Chhat Par Hai. He adds, “We are making episode bank... I always say jaan hai toh jahaan hai, but you also need money and resources to live and now everything is getting depleted. We are all in this struggle together; the technicians and actors make it work for productions and the productions make it work for the channel. So we need to hold hands to get through this.”

Writers say that the scripts are being conceived mainly around the main characters, and cameos are better avoided.
Writers say that the scripts are being conceived mainly around the main characters, and cameos are better avoided.

Some, who have recently introduced new shows on air, such as producer Yash Patnaik from Kuch Rang Pyar ke Aise Bhi season 3, inform that they have even shot special episodes for the upcoming festivals. “We have already shot the Rakshabandhan episode, in case there is a lockdown coming. You can’t say what will happen, with this pandemic still on. And we have also added more make-up rooms after the second wave, so initially we had six of them and now we have 14-15, to reduce chances of infection,” says Patnaik.

A still from Choti Sarrdaarni (above). Some TV show producers say that they have even shot the festive episodes in advance, fearing another lockdown.
A still from Choti Sarrdaarni (above). Some TV show producers say that they have even shot the festive episodes in advance, fearing another lockdown.

This planning must be needing precision in scripting as well. That’s why “we are restricting stories to just the main characters of our show, and not going for any cameos at all. If we just shoot with our characters, the chance of infection is narrowed down,” says Ranjeev Verma, scriptwriter of Choti Sarrdaarni. And JD Majethia, chairman of Indian Film and Television Producers Council (IFTPC) adds that only a few people are allowed on on the set: “Our preparation is on the basis of our past experiences. We are following all the SOPs, and scripting in a way that we shoot in a controlled and protected atmosphere.”

But is this rush leading to overwork then? “Everyone is following Covid protocols, and all shoots are from 7am to 7pm with limited cast and crew. But yes, everyone is also trying to create banks without any extra working hours,” informs Amit Behl, senior joint secretary and chairperson of outreach committee at CINTAA, adding, “Night exterior shoots are being avoided.”

Behl, who is also acting in the show Lakshmi Ghar Aayi, talks about the strict measures being taken while shooting: “We are shooting in a protected environment, and have got paramedics on the set. Regular RT-PCR tests are done. Now that we are moving to Naigaon (Maharashtra), the crew and labourers are being housed in hotels. Only the heads of various departments and the actors will be travelling (back home from the set).”

Author tweets @anjuri

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Sunday, November 28, 2021