After the Maharashtra government gave a go ahead and issued Covid-19 guidelines, Hindi TV industry was among the first to resume shoots. However, things took a turn when cast and crew of a few shows such as Bhakharwadi, Kasautii Zindagii Kay, Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai, India’s Best Dancer, Bhabiji Ghar Par Hain! and Excuse Me Madam, tested positive for the virus. While times are certainly difficult, show makers are resolved to brave it all and continue working in a safer environment.
JD Majethia, chairman, television & web, Indian Film & Television Producers’ Council (IFTPC) says that the core committee had a meeting recently where they have decided to be extra careful especially with cast and crew above 65 years of age.
“Though we’ve been following all the SOPs, now we would be stricter. People are testing positive everywhere and not just on the sets. We would also be requesting cast and crew to be watchful while outside the set because we don’t know where we can catch the virus from. Every time someone tests positive, shooting is put on hold for three days at least and work starts only after everyone is tested,” says the actor-producer, who’s show Bhakharwadi was also hit by the virus.
Taking utmost precautions, producer Binaifer Kohli shares most of the crew members of her shows stay on the sets.
“Only actors and senior technicians go home. We’re taking a lot of care but still no one is fully safe. Sanjay (Kohli; husband and producer) has also tested positive but we’ll overcome this,” says the producer of shows such as Happu Ki Ultan Paltan, Bhabiji Ghar Par Hain! and Excuse Me Madam.
Outlining the financial repercussions, both Majethia and Kohli share that halting a show for afew days leads to loss of lakhs of rupee.
“We’ve to pay the rent of the sets and salaries. Then we’ve to get all our staffs tested every time something like this happens, which is again a huge expense,” says Majethia.
Echoing similar views, Kohli adds, “It’s a very difficult time for channel and producers. We’re also spending a lot on sanitisation and health care related things on the set. The ad revenues have gone down as sales have hit the low. So we had to go ahead with the salary cut.”
Producer Ved Raj of Guddan – Tumse Na Ho Paayega feels thankful for having a smooth experience with his show so far. “I feel after the first few days, people tend to get relaxed and miss out on taking certain precautions while at work. So we’re constantly trying to inculcate discipline. Meanwhile, we’re also keeping a decent episode bank ready,” he says.
Though the situation is grim, work needs to go on for survival — is the common sentiment now. India’s Best?Dancer judge, choreographer Geeta Kapur, admits that things are tough, more so after couple of contestants on the show and co-judge Malaika Arora recently tested positive and the shooting has been halted for a few days.
“But we’ll deal with it. Ab ghar pe toh nahi baithe sakte, kaam to karna hi padhega. I’m ready to get back to work whenever I’m asked to.”
Actor Rajesh Kumar, who got infected by virus, is currently recovering and is “looking forward to resuming shooting” soon on his show Excuse Me Madam.