Cyclone Tauktae damages TV shooting floors, adds to producers' woes

The gale-like winds and incessant rain could lead to losses worth crores of rupees.

Mumbai: As cyclone Tauktae wreaked havoc all along the western coast of India, along with it mauled Mumbai's famed television industry. Gale-like winds and incessant rain battered not only homes and offices all through Sunday night and Monday, they also tore through TV production sets in different locations in Mumbai and its outskirts.

According to an estimate, at least 20-30 shooting floors were severely damaged when water seeped into them, which could lead to losses running into crores of rupees.

Said Indian Film & TV Producers Council (IFTPC) chairman JD Majethia: "Almost all sets, whether outdoors or indoors, were impacted and reported some damage at least. On the sets of my production house, a tree fall occurred and a boundary wall was also damaged. Besides this, water is seeping in through sections of the roof. It is really a daunting time for us."

Added IFTPC CEO Suresh Amin: "It is akin to rubbing salt upon one's wounds. Television producers were already reeling under the Coronavirus pandemic. Shooting for several (popular) shows then got stalled due to the restrictions imposed. Now this cyclone has devastated at least 30 shoot-ready sets. It will cost Rs. 20 lakhs per film set for rebuilding the damaged sections. It is really a back-breaking predicament for producers and production houses."

Although forewarning cyclone advisories issued a week ago by weather department officials had sounded the alert, TV production units could not gear up sufficiently well during this time with preventive measures in place. The reason: under pressure to deliver daily episodes for the telecast, most of them shifted their shoots to other states after Maharashtra imposed a suspension of both indoor shootings as well as outdoor filming schedules. 

According to Majethia, "challenges for the TV production community are increasing day by day. Usually around the middle of the month of May is the time, when producers focus on aspects of monsoon preparedness before rains are scheduled to arrive in the month of June. Unfortunately, the cyclone hit Mumbai now."

But he says no one from the production trade is willing to get beaten down by the continuous hammering their businesses have been getting over the past year, on account of the pandemic and then by nature's fury. "We will immediately undertake repair efforts and rebuild our sets so that work may be restarted in right earnest once again. We accord high priority to safety over everything else," revealed Majethia.

The IFTPC chief also expressed hope that the Maharashtra government led by Udhav Thackeray would go-ahead green signal film and television shootings in the state given that the peak of the second wave appears to be ebbing and a decline in growing infections is being actively reported.

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