Shoots allowed to resume across India now, industry rejoices with caution


In a relief for the entertainment industry, Union information and broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar announced on Sunday that all film and television shoots across the country can resume, along with a set of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in place. While shoots had resumed in the main hub of Bollywood, Maharashtra, and scattered across states such as Kolkata, pan-India shoots hadn’t been allowed until now.

SOPs range from only actors facing the camera being exempted from wearing face masks, to ensuring visitors and audience are not allowed on sets.

Ashoke Pandit, chief advisor, Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) welcomes this move. “It’s a moral boost and now we can go to any state and shoot. In Mumbai, only small shoots had been possible, if someone wanted to shoot in, say, Bhopal or Lucknow, they wouldn’t know if their government would allow, because individual state governments had not issues any SOPs. It’s not only job opportunities for our industry, but everyone related to shooting- if a unit goes to Bhopal, local workers like hotels and vehicles get opportunities,” he says, adding that SOPs are similar to what had been in effect for Maharashtra. 

Filmmakers, too, are happy with this announcement. Vinil Mathew, who is directing Taapsee Pannu-starrer Haseen Dilruba, feels that while shoots had anyway resumed across many states, this has come as an official confirmation.

“It’s official in terms of SOPs. While it’s good to have an official endorsement, it will be a guidance for the crews, eventually it all boils down to where you want to shoot, the municipality will decide. TV and advertising people have anyway been shooting for last two months. We are planning to get on floors in October,” he tells us.

Echoing similar sentiments is Sabbir Khan, who is helming Nikamma starring Shilpa Shetty Kundra and is left with only a few days of shoot.

He says, “It’s a mixed feeling. Yes, it’s good news that we have got permission, so many people had been waiting. At the same time, everybody needs to take care. SOPs being issues is a great sign. The world is getting back on track, and I will most probably resume my shoot after Monsoon then. I have four-five days of outdoor shoot left.” 

The ease to shoot across different locations seems to be a common point of connect. JD Majethia, Chairman, Indian Film and TV Producers Council (IFTPC) and producer of the show Bhaakarwadi says the smallest of things have been kept in mind in these SOPs.

“Earlier it was very general, this is very specific. The government studied how it panned out in the last two months. Now we can access locations, but even then not in any containment zone. Otherwise, if we want to travel, we can go and shoot anywhere. We were expecting this to happen eventually, but not so soon. Films and web series are going to benefit a lot, TV anyway was carrying on shoots in a controlled environment,” he elucidates.

Trade analyst Joginder Tuteja agrees and adds that though a few films had started shooting earlier, there wasn’t absolute clarity.

“There are two aspects- one, shooting is needed not just for films which have to come to theatres, but also the ones planning to come on OTT platforms. We don’t know when theatres will reopen, but atleast those OTT films can resume, or those who have just 10-15 days of shoot left. Industry can keep churning out something,” he tells us.

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