With the government shutting down gyms, cinema halls, schools and swimming pools, to stem the spread of the Covid-19 virus, the entertainment industry has also taken note. The Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association (IMPPA), Western India Film Producers’ Association (WIFPA), Indian Film and Television Directors’ Association (IFTDA) and Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) met and took a decision to halt all film and TV shootings from March 19 till the end of the month.
Ashoke Pandit, president, IFTDA says, “We met on Sunday at the IMPPA office and decided unanimously to shut down shooting. As for the losses, we all felt jaan hai toh jahan hai.” The association will analyse the situation in the country post March 31.
Trade analyst Atul Mohan observes, “The film industry will suffer a loss of ₹80-90 crore every week. I think daily soaps will be worst hit.”
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Junior artistes’ remuneration
While directors Anubhav Sinha, Anurag Kashyap and Sudhir Mishra welcomed the move, they were concerned about remunerations of junior technicians such as light boys, set workers, sound assistants and the like. On a Twitter chat, they agreed to look after their staff and technicians.
Brahmastra, Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 stop shoot
Films hit include Nikamma (last schedule was to kick off from Sunday), the Ooty schedule of Mukesh Bhatt’s Sadak 2 (March 19-24) and Sanjay Gupta’s Mumbai Saga. Then there’s Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2. “Our shoot stopped earlier due to Kartik Aaryan’s injury. Then we were told by the Uttar Pradesh government that shoots are cancelled due to the virus,” says a source.
While Brahmastra’s final schedule has been pushed to April, the spin-off of Student of the Year — backed by Dharma Productions and Netflix — is now on hold. Apoorva Mehta, CEO of Dharma Productions, says: “We decided to suspend all our shoot schedules till March 31, to minimise the risk of exposure to our cast and crew.”
TV industry worst affected
Daily soaps are a constant source of entertainment for most viewers, but the novel coronavirus has affected TV shoots too. While the general entertainment channels are figuring things out, shooting to create as many episode banks as possible over the next three days and deciding what to air once they run out of fresh episodes, many producers and actors welcomed this decision.
A statement from the ZEE group says, “Keeping in mind the health and safety of all concerned, ZEE will stop all shoots in the timelines stipulated in the directive. Talks are still on to arrive at a strategy that ensures viewers have the best content to look forward to in the said period.”
Producer Rajan Shahi’s new show Anupamaa, set to launch on Star Plus on March 16, has been deferred. “Since the show had not launched, it was better not to go ahead with the shoot. We will take a call by March 31. I endorse the decision as safety is above everything else.”
‘Felt guilty we couldn’t stop shooting’
Producer of Bhabiji Ghar Par Hain, Binaifer Kohli, says, “It’s like we are sitting on a time bomb. I felt guilty that we were unable to stop shooting. Now I am relieved.”
Creator of Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah, Asit Kumarr Modi, is cautious. He says, “We are all watching the situation and share the government’s concerns. We will comply with the decision of the associations, however, since many offices and government departments are functioning, one can only wonder if we could have handled the matter differently. Many people are dependent on daily wages they earn on the sets.”
(With inputs from Prashant Singh, Sonil Dedhia and Titas Chowdhury)