Just when the Mumbai film industry, popularly known as Bollywood, was getting back into the business with releases being planned, film shoots announced, and resuming the halted movies, the second surge of the pandemic brought everything to a stand-still once again.
With curfews imposed and then stricter lockdown, where only essential services will operate, the Mumbai film industry is facing the adversity of 2020. There have been quite a few postponements of the film releases, including Amitabh Bachchan and Emraan Hashmi’s ‘Chehre’ Rani Mukherjee and Saif Ali Khan’s ‘Bunty Aur Bali 2’ and Rana Duggabati’s ‘Haathi Mere Saathi.’ The pulling of the movies from the theatre is a clear indicator that the producers are nervous about the audience attendance in the theatre anytime soon.
The effect is far-reaching, and losses are huge for exhibitors and producers. But with cases of COVID-19 coming down, the film industry is gearing up to get back on track. Known for its resilience, and despite the second wave hitting India harder than the first, Bollywood is better equipped to deal with the crisis. So, once the Maharashtra government lifts the lockdown restrictions, people will be returning to shooting while following the COVID-19 protocols.
With every adult being eligible for vaccination since May 1, 2021, the Producers Guild of India is working relentlessly to get all the crew members vaccinated, thus ensuring their safety.
There have been reports of halting several projects in Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, and Lucknow. Some of the projects are ‘Rocket Boys,’ a series based on the lives of Indian scientists. Amazon Prime Video series ‘ Hush Hush,’ which has a female lead, was also halted along with Akshay Kumar’s ‘Ram-Setu’.
Abundantia, an entertainment company, has reached out to vaccine manufacturers of India for supply and is building the COVID-19 related costs into the overall budget of the production. It is stated that they will maintain bio bubble, regular COVID testing, limiting two people in a car, a minimum of six COVID inspectors per unit, doctors on call, ambulances, and regular sanitization facilities, to name a few, to ensure a safe shooting experience.
Like Abundantia, many have worked on their projects remotely, though they find the post-production quite challenging. India being a vast country, some shooting works continued in the places where the restrictions were limited to night curfew.
With cases dipping every day and Maharashtra lifting the lockdown on June 1, 2021, Bollywood is planning for a safe return to resume their shooting unless the cases rise.