Shooting amidst a pandemic causing anxiety: Binaifer Kohli

The production house has taken pay adjustments.

MUMBAI: Television shoots which were halted due to Covid2019 pandemic have now resumed shooting after adhering to myriad instructions. Producers are taking all necessary precautions to ensure safety and security of cast and crew. On 29 June &TV’s popular sitcom Bhabhiji Ghar Par Hain too resumed shooting.

Producer of Bhabhiji Ghar Par Hain and Edit II Productions co-founder Binaifer Kohli tells that she is excited to begin shooting but at the same time the extra work and responsibility has caused a sense of anxiety. 

“Shoots are happening late as we are taking effort to follow all the SOPs. More than the shooting, our major concern is on sanitisation and other guidelines as people’s lives are more important. There is no second chance here," she explains.

Makeup artists, hairdressers and dress men are using PPE kits and artists have been provided separate makeup kits and rooms. Kohli also stresses on using good quality sanitation solutions to avoid any harm. If it is adulterated, then it will not do the work, if used more than the required it could turn acidic. Kohli uses special sanitisation cans to spray on clothes which are relatively more expensive than the usual sanitisers. As there is a lot of heat and halogen lights on the set it could negatively react with the solution and catch fire.

Every 15 days, the shooting premise is sanitised by a government-approved vendor. They have mostly German dealers who are supplying sanitisation cans and other necessary equipment. There are also vitamin tablets, homeopathic pills and immunity boosting kadhas at the entrance for people to consume.

According to her, it is very difficult to re-imagine and re-design production protocols and other guidelines. She also highlights that it is difficult to match deadlines now. She says, “We are allowed to shoot with only 33 per cent of the staff and lighting arrangements are done keeping this in mind. Once the camera is set, actors enter the scene and the light-men, along with other crew members, come out of the scene.   Things are going a little slow as compared to before. People on the set have decreased but the lights and cameras used for one shot remain the same. It affects the output of the show.”

There will be no major changes in the scripts. Grand wedding scenes will now be replaced by court marriage. Funerals and other events will be shown with fewer people.

Apart from the actors who are travelling daily through their private vehicles, the rest of the crew members are staying on the set. The 12-hour shift timings remain the same for actors and other staff. “We try to wrap up the work in the 12-hour time frame. We have also introduced shift systems so that there is no extra burden on one particular actor.”

The production house has taken an overall insurance plan along with the Covid2019 insurance cover. As curfew is imposed in Mumbai, Kohli makes sure that shoot ends before 9 pm and people can reach their home in time.

According to Kohli, it is important for broadcasters and producers to sail together in the same ship in order to survive.

“Broadcasters are trusting us with our work. We all are supportive towards each other. I have taken a price cut; in the channel itself people have taken 40 per cent cuts. Broadcasters are also facing a lot of difficulty. They are sailing in troubled waters too. The main concern is that there is advertisement happening on television. Brands have nothing to sell and some of them have shut. Whatever products they have they will sell on merit and demand. When there is excess supply then brands have the option of competing. In this scenario, how will broadcasters survive?" she says.

Kohli’s husband Sanjay Kohli, who is also the creative producer, oversees all the pre-production and post-production work. He checks the scripts before it goes for shooting and episodes before it goes to the channel. Edit and other post- production work is done from her office that is situated in Bandra. They are using technologies like iCloud to save data.

The house has two shows Bhabhiji Ghar Par Hain and Happu Ki Ultan Paltan on & TV. The popular sitcom May I Come In Madam’s second season is also set to go on the floors very soon, which got postponed owing to the pandemic.

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