'15-Day Shoot Halt Means Loss of Rs 1,000 Crore for Film Industry'

The 15-day lockdown in Maharashtra has left producers, filmmakers & exhibitors worried.

4 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>Shooting of <em>Bhool Bhalaiyaan</em> 2 came to a halt and Taapsee's<em> Loot Lapeta </em>post production has stopped.&nbsp;</p></div>

The Maharashtra government announced on Tuesday, 13 April, that film, TV and advertisement shoots will be halted from Wednesday (14 April) evening, as part of the new guidelines issued to try and curb the rise in COVID-19 cases in the state. The new restrictions have been implemented in the state from 14 April, 8pm and will continue till 1 May, 7am.

This is the second time that the entertainment industry has been forced to shut down. Last year, when the lockdown was imposed in March, shoots came to a sudden halt. TV shows resumed shooting after almost six months, followed by films. Things had started to look up from the beginning of this year.

However, the sharp spike in cases in the last one month, has brought things back to square one. So, what does this 15-day lockdown mean for the film, TV and advertisement industries? Will they survive the second hit? The Quint spoke to insiders, who are trying their best to prevent more damage from happening.

Film Industry, The Worst Hit

The beginning of the year looked hopeful as filmmakers announced a slate of theatrical releases and exhibitors heaved a sigh of relief after cinema halls reopened. But with the second wave of the pandemic, things have gone from bad to worse. Film releases have been pushed again, shoots of movies such as Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2, Ram Setu and Fukrey 3 have been suspended. Even the post-production of Taapsee Pannu and Tahir Raj Bhasin-starrer Loop Lapeta had to be stopped.

The producer of the film Tanuj Garg, who has just recovered from COVID-19 himself, offers an assessment of the situation.

'15-Day Shoot Halt Means Loss of Rs 1,000 Crore for Film Industry'
“No lockdown is non-intrusive. Just when things had started going back to normal, we’ve been plunged into this uncertainty again. It’s a repeat of 2020, except that we hope that this lockdown won’t last that long. We need to start living with the virus and find practical ways of working. Like most of our producer friends, we have projects in pre-production and post-production, so those are bound to get impacted, consequently escalating costs. But the show must go on, and it is.”
Tanuj Garg, Producer, Managing Partner - Ellipsis Entertainment

Earlier, in an interview with The Quint, filmmaker Anurag Basu said that it is now that the industry has started feeling the pinch because up until now exhibitors and producers were somehow managing things.

“My heart goes out to exhibitors. They are still maintaining their staff, infrastructures of PVRs, Inox. It will take 5 to 7 years to recover from the losses. We producers have found our way by releasing films on OTT but theatre owners are suffering a lot.”
Anurag Basu, Filmmaker and Producer

Birendra Nath Tiwari, President of the Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE), also tells us that this 15-day lockdown will cost the industry a loss of almost Rs 1,000 crore.

“This 15-day lockdown is a huge blow to the film industry. It’s a loss of almost Rs 1,000 crore. Yet again, the daily wage workers will be in a fix. Around three to four lakh people will get affected”.
Birendra Nath Tiwari, Federation of Western India Cine Employees President

He added that the film bodies have put across suggestions to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray in a recent meeting.

"The cost of the sets that have already been erected is piling up. If workers leave then the work will stop. So, we are trying to ensure that people who have been employed to build sets continue their work. There won't be any shooting, but they will maintain social distancing and keep working on the sets. We are also trying to get permission for post-production work at the studios. We have put forward these requests to the Maharashtra CM. Let's see what happens. We won't be shooting for the next 15 days and will follow the lockdown rules, but if the lockdown gets extended, we will shoot by creating bio bubbles. So after 15 days, no matter what the situation, we will start shooting."

  • 01/02

    Letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

    (Photo: The Quint)

    <div class="paragraphs"><p>Letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.</p></div>
  • 02/02

    Letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

    (Photo: The Quint)

    <div class="paragraphs"><p>Letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.</p></div>

What is a Bio Bubble?

A bio-bubble is a secure environment isolated from the outside world to minimise the risk of COVID-19 infection. Creating a bio bubble for shooting means the crew and cast for shows or films after being tested for COVID, will be kept in one particular location. They won't be allowed to travel.

TV Industry Has Still Not Recovered From the 2020 Lockdown

The Chairman of Indian Films and Television Producers Council (IFTPC), JD Majethia (also the producer of Wagle Ki Duniya) has been dealing with the COVID crisis on the sets of his own TV show. Recently, some crew members of the show tested positive, following which shooting was halted. Now, with the new COVID guidelines, Majethia expresses concern for the TV industry.

“We haven’t recovered from the losses that the TV industry faced during the four-month shutdown last year. Now, on top of that, the second lockdown has already been imposed, and we don’t know how to recover from this. Our industry has witnessed a huge loss. Forget about recovering from previous losses, even if we start afresh today it is very difficult to sustain because of the increasing expenses”.
JD Majethia, Actor/Producer and Chairman of IFTPC

He added, "The COVID-related expenses are huge. We need a long term solution now. We will wait and watch during this two-week lockdown. We will also make plans for creating bio-bubbles and then approach the CM".

No Negative Impact on TVC production

Unlike films and TV, the advertising industry doesn't seem to be much affected by the lockdown. Speaking to The Quint, advertiser, author & editor of MELT, Anant Rangaswami, said that the 15-day lockdown will have no significant negative impact on TVC production.

“It’s one of the leanest periods for creating commercials. The TVCs that we see during IPL will be the last in the current set. The next burst will be for Dussehra. These ads will be shot and finished by around 15 September. The current lockdown will affect those films that are in production but will have no significant negative impact on TVC production”.
Anant Rangaswami, Advertiser, Author & Editor of MELT

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