Is the TV industry ready to raise the curtain?
Broadcasters and television producers recently had a virtual meeting with Maharashtra Chief Minister Udhav Thackeray who had earlier asked the Hindi and Marathi film industries along with the television industry to prepare an action plan on restarting shoots and post-production on a limited scale. While some supported the move, many members from the television fraternity have expressed their concerns owing to long shooting hours and colossal rent to be paid by production houses for the sets erected by them.
Stressing on the risks involved, actor Dilip Joshi of Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah says, “It’s going to be difficult and I don’t think this is the right time to start shooting. We should wait for another month before taking a call.” He elaborates, “Despite the idea of having a limited crew, we wouldn’t be aware whether people are following the right hygiene. Even if we plan to shoot with a limited cast, it will be a challenge for writers to conceive a scene.”
Talking about the meeting, actor-director-producer JD Majethia says, “Our CM has said that shoots can happen in green zones and in places where studios are far from civilisation. He has asked his principal secretary to take charge, make a report and initiate the job to allow monsoon maintenance of sets and allow post-production work.” He believes that now is the time to resume shooting to make up for the losses incurred. He says, “People have started shooting across the world. We all are aware that this virus is going to co-exist and we will have to work our way out through it. For example, an elaborate wedding scene might be changed to a court marriage or the couple getting married with only the immediate family involved.”
Actor Varun Badola had been shooting for his show Mere Dad Ki Dulhan when the announcement to stop shoots was made. He points out that the hectic shooting schedule might be a risky affair. “We’re supposed to work for a 12-hour shift but we end up shooting for 18 hours at a stretch. If you are tired, your immunity is going to go down and that is going to affect your system,” he says.
The shoots of Binaifer Kohli’s production ventures Happu Ki Ultan Paltan and Bhabiji Ghar Par Hain! are on hold. She urges the government to provide financial assistance to all production houses to take safety measures. She says, “The television industry has incurred a huge loss and I would want the government to help by giving subsidies. There is a necessity to include Covid-19 in the existing insurance. We’ll have to shoot with smaller units and have a doctor on set. We would also need an entire sanitisation process in place.”
Actor Arjun Bijlani feels that a realistic set of safety measures can be formulated once shoots begin. “Just projecting and planning is not enough. Only when shoots commence, can one realistically gauge and implement rules and regulations. The economy has gone for a toss. The entertainment industry is stuck and will take time to bounce back. However, sanitisation and social distancing are must,” he opines.