From Maharashtra to Punjab, how TV industry is navigating Covid's second wave

Even though outdoor shooting is suspended in Goa, indoor filming is permitted.

KERALA: The second wave of Covid2019 that is wreaking havoc in India has reshaped the way in which television shows are made and broadcasted. As several states including Maharashtra have suspended the shooting of TV shows due to the surge in Covid cases, producers are now choosing states like Punjab to complete the filming of ongoing projects. 

Producers compelled to shift shoots to other states

During the initial days of shooting suspension, most showrunners shifted to states like Goa and Karnataka to complete their pending shoots. And now, as several states have started imposing strict restrictions, producers are going further afield – moving to Punjab, Gujarat, and Rajasthan to quickly film the pending episodes. 

For television producers, this inter-state expedition is a costly proposition, especially because the shooting in these states has to be carried out in adherence to all Covid protocols. 

"Shooting in other states outside Maharashtra is undoubtedly a very expensive deal, and producers are struggling financially. We are quickly trying to complete the filming of pending episodes in states like Goa, Gujarat, Karnataka, Rajasthan, and Punjab. We are facing huge loss, but the show must go on," said Indian Films and Television Producers Council chairman JD Majethia. 

Filming of non-fiction shows impacted

According to Majethia, production of non-fiction shows has been largely impacted due to Covid restrictions, especially due to the huge funds and infrastructure involved in the filming process. 

"Even in normal scenarios, running a non-fiction show is very challenging, and now, during the time of the pandemic, it has become more challenging than ever before. Contestants who participate in these shows come from different cities, and producers should take care of various things including their accommodation. We have to be very careful to ensure that no person in the sets is infected. It is a financial and moral responsibility, and it is stressful too," added Majethia. 

The actor-director also noted that it is really difficult to replicate everything on the new sets that are being erected to ensure continuity of shows. 

Artists and technicians stranded in various states

IFTPC revealed that several artists from Maharashtra are currently stranded in other states. To avoid this situation, producers have urged the government to permit the shooting of television shows within Maharashtra, and assured that filming will take place by maintaining all Covid protocols. Majethia also added that producers in Maharashtra are ready to work together with the government to curb the spread of the pandemic. 

"There are several technicians and artists who are now in other states for shooting activities. To enter Maharashtra and to go back to other states for filming is not an easy task, as RT-PCR tests are mandatory to enter other regions. We also love to be a part of the government's initiative to curb the spread of the pandemic," added IFTPC. 

Majethia went on to mention that the lockdown imposed in Goa has negatively affected the filming of many shows that had switched production bases to the smallest state in the country. 

However, Goa Line Producers Association president Sandeep Korecha revealed that the lockdown has not affected indoor shooting. 

"We are allowed to shoot at indoor venues, until May 30, even during the lockdown. Outdoor shoots aren't permitted. We have also been asked to shoot with minimum crew members. We put an indicator on our vehicles so that they're allowed to pass during the lockdown," said Korecha during a recent interview with The Times of India.

Television shows essential during Covid times

Following the spate of restrictions in several states including Maharashtra, Karnataka, Goa, and Kerala, people are now confined to their homes, and for them, the primary means of entertainment is the television. Citing this point, Majethia claimed that makers of TV programs also come under essential services. 

"People are depressed and frustrated due to the Covid pandemic. Entertainment is very much necessary at this time. Getting ample doses of entertainment will act as a medicine for depressed people," he asserted. 

Meanwhile, several television personalities have also succumbed to the deadly virus in recent days. On 30 April, actor and anchor Kanupriya died days after contracting Covid. She was known for her roles in Bhanwar, Ananro, Kahi Aek Gaon, Kartavya, Meri Kahani, Tesu Ke Phool and Tumhara Intezar Hai.  

On 10 April, veteran Punjabi actor Satish Kaul, who had featured in BR Chopra's Mahabharat, passed away due to Covid-related complications. 

Television actor Divya Bhatnagar, best known for her role in Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai, died due to Covid2019 in December last year. She was just 34. 

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