Many film and television producers are considering shifting productions to locations outside Maharashtra as the government has halted shoots in the state for 15 days, starting Wednesday evening. The latest set of restrictions, which are a part of the ‘Break the Chain’ order, was announced on Tuesday evening by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
Until this order, shoots in the state were going on with restrictions, such as no scenes to be shot with crowds or background dancers and only 33 per cent crew to be present on location. Films like Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Pathan, Salman Khan-led Tiger 3 and megastar Amitabh Bachchan’s Goodbye were filming in the state with these restrictions. Federation of Western Cine Employees president BN Tiwari told indianexpress.com that several producers are now turning towards Goa to take forward their film schedules.
“Even though this is just a 15-day lockdown, people are preparing themselves for an extension, owing to the steep rise in Covid-19 cases. So, many films will continue in Goa, Kolkata,” he said.
Just hours before the new restrictions were announced, the makers of Ek Villain 2 said the second schedule of the film would take place in Goa, anticipating another lockdown in the state. The makers believed it made sense to move the shoot outside the Mumbai since it was a large production which called for several big set pieces that could only be shot on live locations.
Director Mohit Suri along with his team flew down to Goa a few days back for a quick recce, and they will begin shoot from April 16. “Shooting during these times is hard on the cast and crew, but they’ve shown fantastic resilience and great team work and have turned things around at such a short notice; we are ready to roll this week. The scale and mounting of the film calls for live, scenic locales instead of studio floors,” producer Ekta Kapoor said in a statement.
Besides Ekta, Bhushan Kumar’s T-Series serves as the producer on the film. While Kumar took an early decision to shift the Ek Villain 2 shoot to Goa, he is yet to make any such plans for his other big film– Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 — whose shooting has been on hold since Kartik Aaryan tested positive for the coronavirus in March. After the actor tested negative early April, it was assumed that the makers would go back to floors. But the new restriction has thwarted the plans.
When indianexpress.com reached out to director Anees Bazmee, he said he was waiting for his producer to take a call on this, even as he is not entirely convinced about shooting in another state. “The situation is bad everywhere. Some places are reporting numbers, some aren’t. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a worrying situation. So, is it really safe to shoot somewhere else?”
Ishq Mein Marjawan 2, starring Helly Shah and Rrahul Sudhir, which has transitioned from television to web– streaming on Voot Select, is another production that is reportedly taking off to Goa for further shooting. The cast and crew are expected to leave for the location on Wednesday, a source said.
Veteran hairdresser Mona, a daily wage worker, who has been working on an upcoming web-series, said that several productions are planning to shift to Goa and Jaipur but she is not certain if workers from Mumbai would be allowed in these states. “One hears that many films and series will be shifted to other places but will we get an access? Anyone coming from Maharashtra right now will be looked at as a potential carrier. So, we don’t know if shifting of shoots will mean continuation of work for us.”
Earlier in the afternoon, film associations like FWICE, Indian Films & TV Producers Council and Indian Film & Television Directors’ Association held a Zoom meeting with Aadesh Bandekar, head of Shiv Sena’s film wing, and conveyed to the government their concerns about the lockdown. “We have requested them to allow post-production to continue with restrictions. Last year, people did that from home but we are hoping that the government will allow artistes to work from studios.”
Coming to television, most of the shows have a bank of episodes for this week, while a few are sorted for about 10 episodes. Producers are still in discussion with channels on how things would pan out in the coming days. There is also a conversation happening with the state government and the various industry bodies if shoots can resume from next week.
A source shared with us that none of the General Entertainment Channels (GECs) want to stop original programming and are exploring alternatives. The best resort as of now looks like fiction shows will move base to different cities to continue shoots. Non-scripted television shows, however, had shot multiple episodes in advance fearing a shutdown.
JD Majethia, Chairman, TV & Web wing, IFTPC also told indianexpress.com, “As we have already mentioned, we stand by the government but we would also like to discuss on the probability of continuing shoots, with added safety measures. A lot of production houses, in a desperate move, want to shoot outdoors. It is a good decision given it will add a flavour in the storyline, however, there are certain limitations in other states too. They would thus need to tread carefully and choose places which has not been struck hard by the second wave of Covid-19.”
Colors’ show Udaariyaan is already based in Chandigarh, and Sasural Simar Ka, which is set to launch from April 26, recently shot in Agra. While it was a three-day schedule, sources state that it might get pushed a little further so that more episodes can be canned there. Balaji Telefilms has decided to shift all its film and TV shoots to Goa. Hence Mollki (Colors), Kumkum Bhagya (Zee TV), Kundali Bhagya (Zee TV) and Yeh Hai Chahatein (Star Plus) in most probability would be shot on the beaches of Goa.
Sources in Sony TV shared that the team is still speaking on the future course with the top authorities. As for Zee TV, Teri Meri Ikk Jindari would be shifted to Punjab, while Kyun Rishton Mein Katti Batti team is planning to shoot in Surat. On the other hand, Star Plus’ Imlie and Mehndi Hai Rachne Wali may be shot in Hyderabad’s Ramoji Film City. Other production houses are looking at Delhi, Bikaner and Jaipur for their shoot schedules. However, sources share with us that a final call would only be taken by Thursday or Friday after weighing out all logistics.