Coronavirus impact | Bollywood welcomes Kerala model but says need more to restart business

By Maryam Farooqui

Siddharth Anand Kumar, VP, Films and Events, Saregama, thinks that although Kerala’s move will ensure that a large number of projects get completed, the real challenge will be restarting shooting.

Kerala has become the first state to allow post-production work of films and TV to resume. But permission has been granted on the condition that maximum of five people would be allowed to work.

Stakeholders in Bollywood said it is a good move but more is needed to help restart the production cycle.

"Although it is a good move, I don't know if those five people will be able to manage the heavy workload unless you have teams of five working in shifts. For post-production, 10-20 people are required to undertake the job. Some work is possible from home but some work has to be done in studios. If a studio has too much workload some projects are bound to get affected with such a restriction," producer Akshay Bardapurkar told Moneycontrol.

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Adding to this, Shailesh Kapoor, CEO, Ormax Media, a media consulting firm, said: “Not only will restrictions like this (five people on a set) slow down work, it will make lot of shoots untenable, as multi-camera setups need more people. We have to wait for the right time when restrictions related to shootings can be relaxed.”

What entails post-production work?

“If production is the life of a movie, post-production is the lifeline. We are 100 percent dependent on post-production which includes things like editing, color corrections, VFX sound programming, music and final output and many more things,” said Bardapurkar.

According to Siddharth Anand Kumar, VP, Films and Events, Saregama, “sometimes post-production, especially for films with a great deal of VFX, can take much longer than the actual shoot. Once post-production is done, the film is ready for release except for the obtaining of a censor certificate.”

If we go by Kapoor’s estimates as many as “25-30 Hindi films were in various stages of production before the lockdown, and another 10-15 would have gone into production by now under normal circumstances. Plus, another 10-15 are ready for release, with most or all post-production done.”

Bardapurkar also has a film called Goshta Eka Paithanichi which has post-production work left. “Although I could get a few things done from home, film processing can’t happen due to lockdown so yes that film will regain momentum only when studios open up,” he said.

Even veteran producer Anand Pandit has few projects that are on halt. “Things are on a pause on Big Bull starring Abhishek Bachchan. We have about four days of shoot left. Chehre is complete and ready for the box office. It's the new projects that were to take off that have taken a hit and need re-evaluation,” he said.

While Kumar thinks that Kerala’s move will ensure that a large number of projects get completed, the real challenge will be restarting shooting. And according to Kapoor full production may start from October.

“It is difficult to take too many precautions, as film/ TV sets in India are inherently chaotic. But social distancing and screening are the minimum steps needed. However, this does not take care of asymptomatic carriers. Hence, even producers will be wary of restarting shoots soon,” added Kapoor.

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