What is the way forward for the film and television industry of India once the lockdown ends? Last week the Producers’ Guild Of India issued a lengthy list of post-lockdown guidelines which they later declared to be an internal discussion ‘leaked’ on the public domain prematurely.
However the fact remains that the industry is now planning strategies to resume shooting after lockdown.
This makes no sense to the film industy’s prominent spokesperson and Ashoke Pandit the chief adviser The Federation Of Western India Cine Employees. “How can any guild or industry association plan any strategy for post-lockdown shooting unless the Government comes out with a post-lockdown policy? We have to see the Government’s guideline and then plan accordingly.”
Ashoke doesn’t seem very optimistic about the future of the entertainment industry. “We haven’t learnt our lessons. Look at the way the queues behaved when the liquor shops re-opened. It was business as usual. If this is all we’ve learnt from our recent experience than even God can’t save us .”
Pandit sees a precarious situation emerging from the Corona crisis. “How will we shoot films and serials where close proximity is essential both on and off camera? We are nor manufacturing biscuits. We are doing what is essentially creative work where we need to constantly interact with one another. How do we shoot a fight sequence without actors touching one another? Forget about actors venturing into the post-Corona guidelines. They’ll be too frightened to shoot.”
Ashoke wants the central government to help the Indian film industry get back on its feet. “We must be treated like an industry. We must be given GST and other concessions and incentives . It’s the only way we can survive after this economic trauma.”
Sameer Nair, CEO of Applause Entertainment feels, “As an industry, we are figuring out the best way to bring the entertainment and media industry’s economy back on the rails. It’s very important that we get back to work soonest.”
Entrepreneur-actor Sachiin Joshi who feels the OTT is the way forward for the film industry, also feels the big-screen experience is irreplaceable. “Once the lockdown is over there will be some amount of uncertainty and chaos about how to go about with the shooting. But we Indians are exceptionally resilient people. Our industry will figure out all the dos and don ts of shooting in no time at all.”
Adds trade analyst Girish Johar, “The guidelines issued by the producers guild has an extensive overview of what is the ideal scenario when we, the film fraternity, resume the shooting and production services, post the government approval. It has taken utmost care about each and every individual, right in front of the camera and behind the camera as well. The basic framework is effective. But the actual ground reality maybe different. It will be very limiting to cut down on labour and production teams. The cost will go up in various departments and there will be added expenses to maintain those hygiene factors.”
Johar feels we cannot tackle the situation until we hit the road. “As production is a very intricate and closely-knit discipline, how it actually pans out on the ground level, remains to be seen. Most importantly the actors have to be comfortable, tested and then come on screen. It is big but do-able challenge. If the actors give full support then I guess that all could be easy, to start with. Also, I believe some feedback has gone to the Producers’ Guild and they have issued another circular stating that the guidelines issued are only a first draft, for the moment and more tweaking and fine-tuning is being made. So I presume all the inputs will be re-factored and updated guidelines will come out soon.”
Says Shibasish Sarkar CEO Reliance Entertainment, “We have to wait for some guidelines to be finalized and cleared by the Government. Until then we can only wait and watch.”