WITH COVID-19 continuing its relentless surge and the Maharashtra Government tightening restrictions, film and TV producers are scouting for locations outside the State in a desperate bid to complete long-stalled movie projects and build up episode banks. The pandemic last year had slammed the brakes on the Mumbai-headquartered entertainment industry that provides employment to lakhs of people. And just as shooting schedules were picking up pace and dates getting finalised for films awaiting theatrical releases came the second Covid wave more powerful than the first with Maharashtra leading the tally of cases.
As the State Government clamped down further on movement, following its announcement that all shootings stand suspended to curtail the spread of the infection, and fears of a lockdown grew, so did uncertainty about what the future holds. Producer Bhushan Kumar’s “Ek Villain Returns” is one of the biggies to be affected. The shoot has been moved to Goa but Kumar said there is no decision yet on their other films. “The sudden surge in COVID cases is definitely something to worry about. We stand by the decision to not shoot in the city. To meet the shoot deadlines we have found the perfect location in Goa to shoot ‘Ek Villain Returns’.
The shoot has begun there and we are abiding by the protocols laid down by the government. We will soon take a call on the other films,” Kumar told PTI. The shoot of Prabhas-starrer “Adipurush”, which was taking place in Mumbai with minimum cast and crew, is now on hold due to the virtual lockdown in the state. In television, where producers have to come up with daily episodes, they have gone to second-tier cities after Mumbai shut down production. Goa, a convenient flight away, seems to be a favourite. Star Plus shows such as “Yeh Hai Chahatein”, “Ghum Hai Kisikey Pyaar Meiin” and “Aapki Nazron Ne Samjha” are currently being shot in the coastal state. Zee TV has also shifted the shoot of its popular shows “Kundali Bhagya”, “Apna Time Bhi Ayega” and “Qurbaan Hua” to Goa.
Hyderabad is the location for “Imlie” and “Mehndi Hai Rachne Waali” and “Ek Mahanayak Dr B R Ambedkar” has moved to Umergaon in Gujarat. “Every producer is facing a certain challenge. There was anyway a weekend lockdown which had hampered the shoot. So now, nobody has a complete episode bank,” said actor-producer J D Majethia, chairperson, TV & web wing, Indian Films & TV Producers Council (IFTPC). Majethia said he himself has run out of episode banks for his show “Wagle Ki Duniya” and will rely on repeat telecasts. Also hit is the release schedule of films. While many films were premiered on OTT platforms, some held out and were waiting for things to improve before releasing them in theatres.