Colors' Kapil comedy turns to tragedy

MUMBAI: He's been making waves with his unique brand of comedy on Colors and has emerged as an incomparable standup comic ever since his show Comedy Nights with Kapil broke on Colors a couple of months ago. But Kapil Sharma made news of a different kind on 25 September: the set on which his show was being filmed was burned to ashes on the Filmcity lots in Goregaon, Mumbai. As reports of the disaster spread, it sent chills down TV producers, directors', actors' and fans' spines.

Sharma is co-producing the series which has been generating substantial TVTs for Colors under his banner K9 Productions along with Zodiak group firm SOL Productions.

Says the Indian Film and Television Producers Council co-chairman JD Majethia: "For the most part, we at the council have been urging our TV producer members to have adequate safety measures on the sets on which they are filming. Taking an insurance cover is essential, which I believe was taken in this case. We have also been telling our members that electric wiring should be done properly and checked periodically, right from the main switchboard, so that chances of sparking and any fire hazards are reduced. The unit has to ensure that there are adequate functional fire extinguishers in place. Thirdly, the electric cabin has to be very well-guarded. Fourthly, the light and the electric boys who are dealing with all this should be well-trained and extremely alert."

Adds Swastik Productions promoter and maker of one of India's most expensive TV shows currently airing on Star Plus Mahabharat Siddharth Tewary: "When we make a set, lot of things are at stake and we firstly insure all the people who are working, we also insure the whole set in its entirety. We have to take care of all this sensitive things because we shoot on generators; we have to keep a check if it does not over-heat. Also keep a check at the security guards who are monitoring those things."

In the case of the fire on the Comedy Nights with Kapil set, only one of the two fire extinguishers was functional, which made all efforts by the filming crew to douse it pretty futile, reports say. By the time the fire engines and fire fighting crew arrived, the set was burnt to cinders. It was not the first time that a TV show's sets have been destroyed in the whirlwind TV production that Mumbai has become. Recently, the sets of Zee TV's Housewife Hai Sab Jaanti Hai were totaled thanks to a blaze.

Estimates are that the Comedy Nights with Kapil calamity could lead to a production loss of anywhere from Rs 1 crore to as much as Rs 8-10 crore, depending on what was standing on the set when the fire broke out. The lower estimate takes into consideration that only the stage, set, wiring, cabling, costumes and long-used par-cans and moving head lights and other light fixtures were affected. But the losses number would climb if it emerges that HD cameras, the TV control room, and other fixtures were damaged in the fire. 

Says a TV non-fiction producer: "Anyway the cameras would have been insured by Prime Focus or whosoever else they rented the cameras from. Even the lights and fixtures would have been similarly insured."

Adds a media expert: "TV producers have recently taken time to insure their productions for sums ranging from Rs 2 crore to as much as Rs 15-20 crore too. Premia for such insurance, ranges from as low as Rs 1 lakh to high as Rs 10 lakh depending on how high the insurance is going and for how long. Now the producers, the vendors and suppliers will have to put their claims before the insurance companies and cross their fingers hoping their claims will be honoured and they will get their dues. The insurance companies will investigate the accident thoroughly through their investigators, before coughing up."

The very popular Kapil seems to have taken the mishap in his stride. Speaking to he says: "Jo Bhagwan ki marzi...(It is God's wish) I was in Kolkata for a show on Tuesday. I was supposed to report for shooting for Comedy Nights with Kapil at noon on Wednesday. I decided to drive straight from the airport to the sets to avoid delay. Socha gaadi mein shooting ke beech mein sow loonga...Lekin yahan to maamla hi kuch aur tha. (I thought I would catch forty winks in on the drive to the sets…But fate decreed otherwise) . We will work harder and we'll make sure we don't miss a single episode."

What makes life easier for Kapil and SOL is that the episodes for this weekend are already in the can, thanks to the bank that the duo and the channel have been building. And what's helping is that the number of episodes per week for the show have been halved to make way for the Anil Kapoor blockbuster 24.

Both the SOL and Colors teams will have to quickly find an alternative set on which they can start filming for the weeks ahead. Or build a new one. Hectic times lie ahead for them. As they say there's no business like show business!

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