Lights, camera, action: Among the first ones to resume work, Aishwarya Sakhuja, Chunky Panday, Karan Patel and others share shooting experience in Covid times
The pandemic and subsequent lockdown paused our lives initially. But as soon as Unlock was announced in June, many went back to work. So did the entertainment industry after they received permission from the Maharashtra government. While many TV shows started shooting end of June onwards, a few web series went on floors in July. Those actors, who were among the first ones to resume work, talk about their biggest challenge and learning so far to us:
The biggest challenge has to be alertness in the way we shoot. After we hear ‘action’, we at times do get carried away, and end up touching things or people around us. Also, given that crew members have been reduced, we all are doing so many things ourselves. Such times do make you learn, and my take away from it is not to take things for granted. We’ve been doing that for long enough but now we know even a speck of dust can change things. So I feel grateful for being able to work and of course for every day in my life.
The entire unit was wearing masks and actors who were facing the camera had to unmask themselves to shoot. That’s challenging because we shoot in close proximity while exchanging dialogues and that was scary to start with. Once you are in the character you tend to forget the situation and get carried away. That is another scary thing. Among everything else, the lesson I’ve learnt is that you’ve to take care of yourself in the way you handle your mask between shots, interact with people etc. If you are cautious, you’re good. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Shooting with the new guidelines was initially tough because whatever you do, you make mistakes. Every time I touched something in between shot I would keep on thinking ‘when would I be able to sanitise my hands’. The virus scare looms large and it’s difficult to get it out of your mind even now. I was also worried how everything will eventually pan out, but finally we have formed a routine. I’ve now learnt how important it is to maintain proper sanitation, to stay protected from germs and viruses. It’s good to have been so careful about having a healthy immunity boosting diet, which in the long run will make us fitter.
The fear in mind of being exposed to the virus is always there. Given the crisis, there were many challenges but thankfully the makers took extra precautions on the sets and we were constantly being reminded of certain things so that we don’t go wrong. It took time, but slowly we’ve got the confidence back and have been shooting flawlessly. Hygiene, both personal and in your surroundings, has to be the biggest learning. Being self-reliant and to respect and taking care of mother Nature are the two other important learnings.
The biggest challenge has been to maintain distance while shooting as scenes require physical proximity between actors. Although everyone has been tested and the required sanitisation rules have been met, there is always a small chance that there could be an asymptomatic person on sets. But keeping all the safety measures in place, we try our best to work around it so that we all can stay safe. I think the biggest learning is that we should not take our life and freedom for granted, and enjoy small pleasures in life.
The biggest challenge was to wrap my head around the fact that I was starting to shoot, because stepping out meant you are exposing yourself to the virus all the more. I was worried about my safety. You do end up making mistakes even though you are cautious. I was scared because I would be coming back to home, to my family at the end of the day. But when on sets things went smoothly, it felt better. I think mentally you need to stay strong and alert. Earlier we took hugs, greetings and things like that for granted but now more than anything else we are thankful if we’re able to breathe in fresh, virus free air.
In the beginning, maintaining social distancing and wearing masks were difficult but now it comes naturally to all of us. We’re not just alert about what we’re doing, but also keeping a check on others because anyone can be a carrier. From the time when the set looked so different with people wearing masks and PPE kits to now when we adjusted to the new normal, we’ve come a long way. The most significant learning is to take care of oneself and taking steps with proper caution. I’ve started carrying my own food and make-up kit.
We were happy to start shooting but once on sets, the biggest challenge that we’ll continue to face is that we’ve to be alert always and follow rules. We take utmost precautions and are particular about not touching anything and everything from mikes, water bottles, cups, makeup products to the chairs we sit on, etc. And slowly, we’ve adapted ourselves. I’ve learnt to be atma nirbhar. Earlier, we had an assistant or help for all the small things, but now we do it on our own. I’ve become self-sufficient.
The biggest challenge was the anxiety of stepping out after three-four months with the thought that you might get affected by the virus. So there was this panic factor and constant fear. More so, because I was worried about coming back home to my daughter. While on the set we make sure all are wearing masks, but there are times when we forget and keep reminding each other. More than learning, I would say the biggest realisation is that now I have tremendous appreciation for the freedom that we took for granted earlier. I feel grateful for everything that we have.
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Author tweets @Shreya_MJ