Can the industry adapt to limited hours and high safety costs as film shoots resume in Maharashtra?
Experts feel it will be a while before perfect normalcy returns to film and television sets.
The film and television industry has let out a collective sigh of relief in response to the Maharashtra government's recent allowances regarding shooting protocols. Production houses can now commence shooting but within the time limit of 5 pm and in the safe confines of a bio bubble. No outdoor shoots are as yet allowed. Experts and industry insiders feel the decision is a positive one, to begin with, but it will be a long time before production activities can resume their old momentum.
This is not to say that the industry has not adapted already to the challenging times. Many production units have been shooting in states that have fewer restrictions than Maharashtra. Now with the latest unlocking measures, makers are hopeful that they will be able to enjoy the convenience and familiarity of Mumbai. Some have also hoped that in time, the shooting time will be extended at least for a few more hours. Reports of vaccination drives for over 5 lakh crew members working in 500 sets are trickling in and sanitisation of studios is in full swing. Working within a bio bubble will however entail some adjustment, say producers.
Siddharth Anand Kumar, Vice President – films and events at Saregama India, observes, "Sure, we are all relieved with the unlocking measures but a few challenges persist. The fact that we are used to working 12-hour shifts makes it tough to adapt to the truncated hours. Also regardless of the hours, we must pay the freelancers and daily wage workers, a full day's salary. Lesser hours also mean higher production costs because, in our business, time is money. Plus when we establish COVID-19 protocols, it also increases costs by 8 to 10 per cent. The bio bubble will cost even more."
He is happy however that a beginning towards normalcy has been made and adds, "Just the fact that work that has been stalled can resume to some extent is good news. We can only hope that the worst is behind us and the situation will only get better from here on."