“When nothing is sure, everything is possible.” Folks, do you remember this line by famous British novelist Margaret Drabble? Well, in today’s Covid era, nothing seems more true than this. The world was pretty much at peace before the Covid-19 pandemic got the better of us, and for a fairly long time. India too has had its own share of troubles and lockdown woes during the first and second waves of the pandemic. While safety has to be the foremost priority for one and all, we also have to constantly strive to strike a balance between health and work.

Well, just like any other sector, the showbiz industry in India too resumed work after the first wave got over. From people having high hopes of theatres opening up for good once again, to new TV shows getting aired, we seemed to be quite comfortable with the ‘new normal’. For those who have the option of ‘Work From Home’, things are certainly safer compared to the ones like actors, directors and crew members who have to constantly be on sets for work. No matter how many safety protocols we follow, we have already seen enough instances of actors getting Covid-19 on set due to which either shooting had to come to a halt or have a completely new narrative out of the blue.

Unlike movie productions where the shoot happens within a scheduled frame of time and the entire output can be seen all at once in the theatres or OTT, it’s a slightly different ballgame in the TV industry. Daily soaps are episodic and come what may, ‘the show must go on’ and rightfully so. So what happens when a TV actor, unfortunately, gets Covid and he’s part of a narrative which needs him to be on sets daily for the next week or so? We have some real-life instances to point out for you folks.

All viewers of Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah the popular Sony SAB show must be well aware of that sequence when Bhide seemed absolutely fed up with online classes on Zoom? Just when the narrative was about to peak, unfortunately, actor Mandar Chandwadkar who essays the role of Bhide got infected with Covid due to which that particular narrative had to be postponed. As a result, out of nowhere, we saw a completely new sequence for the next 7-10 days of Patrakar Popatlal and his marriage woes. And folks, no brownie points for guessing that Bhide was nowhere a part of any of those episodes. He rejoined shooting only after he got fit and that’s when we got to see the makers getting back on track with his ‘online class’ sequence once again.

We have another reference in the form of the famous TV show Anupamaa on Star Plus. Around the early weeks of April, we heard reports of actress Rupali Ganguli and Ashish Mehrotra testing positive for Covid-19. With the pressure of running episodes daily, here as well, the makers had to change the plot and bring in variation to cope up with the unforeseen situation. During a conversation with E-Times, actress Madalsa Sharma too had confirmed how the show had to make changes in script after the two actors tested positive for Covid-19. Also, the recent death of actors Paras Kalnawat’s father and Aashish Mehrotra’s father did see them miss being in action. However, all the actors in spite of being down with Covid did appear on the show via video calls on mobile. So this was a good stop-gap arrangement done in the script!!

The situation was no different for another popular Sony SAB show ‘Wagle Ki Duniya – Nayi Peedhi Naye Kissey’ starring Sumeet Raghavan, Pariva Pranati, Aanjan Srivastav & Bharti Achrekar. When some members of the show tested positive for Covid-19, we saw the channel run a promo where the actors themselves acknowledged the impact of Covid due to which their new episodes stopped streaming and re-run episodes had to be aired again. Even now with the Covid pandemic lockdown restrictions in Mumbai, the entire shooting is taking place inside a resort outside of Mumbai which can well be seen in the show.

Our reference comes back once again to the popular sitcom TMKOC where we see a similar thing. Only a handful of actors, Popatlal, Jethalal, Bagha, Bapuji among the main cast have been shooting inside a resort for the last few weeks to execute ‘Mission Kala Kauwa: An attempt to catch the black marketeers of Covid-19 vaccines & medicines as shown in the narrative. Fans haven’t got to see any glimpse of the rest of the cast members and the very famous Gokuldham society for a fairly long time.

There are a lot of instances available in many other shows too. For example, Rajveer Singh, the lead of Qurbaan Hua, was first unavailable as he was down with Covid 19. The makers of the Zee TV show changed the plot and played it around Chahat donning the disguise of a male servant Tota Ram. Later, when Rajveer got back and the chemistry of Neel and Chahat was again buzzing in the show, Rajveer’s father fell ill and the actor had to tend to his ailing father back home. Hence a new plot was played upon wherein actress Akansha Sareen was introduced as Raseeli bringing in the new drama.

Ghum Hai Kisikey Pyaar Meiin the Star Plus show was proceeding towards huge drama when lead actors Neil Bhatt and Aishwarya Sharma had to ease out due to Covid-19 infections. This lead to the writers coming up with a totally new track based on Sai aka Ayesha Singh. How well they managed to create intrigue in the plot, even with the other two actors were not available.

These are only a few examples we have brought about!! You can surely think of many instances like this if you have been ardent followers of Hindi Television.

All these shows might be quite different from each other. But what’s common in all of them is how smartly and tactfully the makers have handled situations of crisis and adapted quickly to change when that was the need of the hour.

If there’s one thing that Covid-19 has done to the TV industry, it is to make the directors and makers less resistant to change for the sake of survival. In times of uncertainty like these, it seems only natural to have a ‘Plan B secondary script’ or a witty and intelligent mind who can make quick fixes to the ongoing script as and when needed since nobody knows what lies ahead.

All we can say to sum things up, in a nutshell, is that adaptability is the simple secret of survival in harsh times like these and it’s an ideal situation for mankind to prove once again that “Tough situations don’t last long, tough people do.”

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