West Bengal TV successfully resumes shooting with strict compliance norms

The industry is shooting for the last two weeks

MUMBAI: The Bengali TV industry is one of the first to have resumed shooting and successfully started off with compliance protocols. The single most confidence-building step was to make sure that every artist and technicians participating in shoot have been provided with an insurance cover. 

Despite reeling under the impact of Covid2019, and having witnessed one of the worst cyclones ever, a major part of Tollywood industry returned to the sets on 11 June 2020. The Bengali television industry has been working collaboratively towards the best possible solutions to make the age-old habit of television experience a fantastic one for the audience. The immense love towards the return of their favourite shows reflects the success of the shows in the very first week itself.

SVF  co-founder and director Mahendra Soni  said, “Initially, we too like everyone, were sceptical on starting the shoot, but I must congratulate everyone and especially leaders at federation,  artist forum and broadcaster for working together and setting detailed guidelines and also assuring everyone that we will stand by everyone affected by the crisis. I think it's a great example on how to fight back in scary times like this by staying together and resuming life in ‘new normal’.”

The state government announced earlier this month that shoots can be resumed indoors with a maximum of 35 people in TV and film shoots, respectively, following all health and safety protocols. While most of the filmmakers are waiting for further easing of restrictions, the shoots of the popular TV serials resumed from 11 June. From regularising the shoot timings to following sanitation guidelines, the producers and channels have undertaken several safety measures to run the show smoothly. The Federation of Cine Technicians & workers of Eastern India had been very supportive to extend every possible support to run the shoots adhering to safety protocols.

 Actor turned director and writer Parambrata Chatterjee said, “I think it’s been a success, the resumption of the shoot at least so far. I know many had reservations. All of us were apprehensive, to begin with but I think getting back to work was necessary for a lot of people and we realised that. A lot of deliberations were done about SOPs and other verticals. Managing the insurance for artistes and technicians wasn’t an easy task, especially for a so-called regional industry.  Films and web will start soon, fingers crossed. I would like to thank the efforts of everyone, from the administration to the respective guilds and the individual artists and technicians.”

While it was slow to start with, as everyone was learning to operate in the new normal, artistes and technicians in two weeks have adapted to the new pace of shooting. There are specific timelines within which the shoots are wrapped up each day. Everybody on the set is cognizant of the fact that safety measures need to be followed strictly, social distancing norms are to be maintained and so on. 

President of Cine Technicians and workers association Swarup Biswas said, “We are living in the ‘new normal’ world now, hence, we have to keep that in mind when we step out for our daily chores. It’s essential for us to ensure the safety of our artistes and technicians on resuming the shoots of TV shows. Thanks to all the producers, channels and partners for their collaborative efforts. With the new insurance scheme in place, we can build on this new normal to deliver the best of content as we always do. It’s my pleasure to reveal that our TV shows are performing well and audiences are appreciating the effort being put behind the making of them. It's been 15 days now that the TV show shoots have been going on successfully through these hard days of Covid2019 pandemic looming fiercely on our society, yet the hard struggle, determination and commitment of all manpower involved in the team-of producers, channels, artists, technicians, and FCTWEI, that we have overcome the hurdles and presented good teamwork in the face of the formidable challenge and presented to the audience some good productions. We hope this resilience and tenacity to overcome the obstacles, to face the challenge as a team is the essence of a sphinx and that we would be able to bring back that old ‘normal world’ once again and hope that those days are not far off.”

Producer Saibal Banerjee said, “Everybody was sceptical in the beginning but as days passed by we gained confidence. We have tried to sketch a foolproof SOP and everyone is strictly adhering to it. We have a strong monitoring cell keeping vigil on day to day activity. Artists are feeling safe with the new arrangements in the make-up rooms and the safety standards maintained by the make-up artists. We are using fumigation techniques to sanitize costumes and makeup materials. New techniques are adapted for master shots to give an illusion of more artists in the set. Mannequins are used for giving a feel of proximity. In other words, we are innovating new ways and not compromising with the storyline. Technicians too are feeling safe with the adequate safety arrangements.”

Meanwhile, exhibitors in India are hopeful that the government will soon permit the reopening of cinemas halls in the next few months. Even though movie theatres are shut and the film industry at a standstill, the producers, distributors and exhibitors have been putting guidelines in place to ensure that they are ready to start functioning, in full compliance with health and safety norms.

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