Just as the Bollywood calendar was dotted with big releases, and stars were shooting in full swing – Covid cases spiked, inviting curbs. Adding to the woes, a host of film stars turned Covid positive. Akshay Kumar, Vicky Kaushal, Bhumi Pednekar, Alia Bhatt, Govinda and Ritwik Bhowmik are the new names adding to the ever-rising Covid tally. Paresh Rawal, Kartik Aaryan, Ranbir Kapoor, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Tara Sutaria, Aamir Khan, Sidhant Chaturvedi, Manoj Bajpayee, Satish Kaushik and Bappi Lahiri had contracted Covid just a month before.
With stars under quarantine, shoots delayed and restrictions in order, as the Maharashtra government imposed another lockdown – closing restaurants, malls, cinemas, looks like entertainment industry is again staring at the same scenario as last year. Would OTT come to rescue, how would the film fraternity deal with the second wave?
Jolt after jolt
Film critic Taran Adarsh calls it a rather tough ‘wait and watch’ phase. “Year 2020 was the most difficult year for the film industry, I am not just referring to the Hindi film industry but globally these were the dark times.” The second wave has brought everything back to square one. Nobody is in a position to comment. “So far, release dates for three of the films – Bunty Aur Babli 2, Haathi Mere Saathi Hindi and Amitabh Bachchan’s Chehre have been deferred. All we can do at the moment is to wait and watch,” he says. Meanwhile, Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif starrer, Sooryavanshi’s release has been postponed too.
Who will shoot?
Director Mandeep Chaahal, who has just wrapped up shoot of the film Nidarr finds the whole scenario scary. “In times as such, no actor or technician will be ready to shoot. Theatres being shut, producers and theatre owners will suffer huge losses if another lockdown happens. Not only the film industry but other business establishments also won’t survive another lockdown.”
With number of actors falling to Covid, things are stressful for everyone out there. Urvashi Rautela, who was looking forward to start shooting for three projects, finds herself at a loss. “After one complete year of no business it is stressful, I really don’t know what kind of compensation the government is going to offer to our sector, which has suffered.
OTT is no alternative
Actor Vaibhav Tatwawaadi doesn’t see OTT as an alternative. “OTT is there, but that’s not a solution, it can run parallel to theatres. I am sure this phase will also pass and we will bounce back.”
Himanshi Khuarana, who has been shooting in Chandigarh for Shava Ni Girdhari Lal is hopeful. She says, “The industry isn’t going to stop, we will continue to entertain the audience, the shootings shall continue following the guidelines.”
- “We have OTT now, but that’s not a solution, it can run parallel to theatres. we will bounce back.” — Vaibhav Tatwawaadi, actor
- “We got through the first lockdown. Maybe this time we are prepared for it. We cannot lose hope at any cost.” —Rashmi Agdekar, actor
- “Even after taking the vaccine, many actors had after-effects, so we have to go slow or at times cancel the shoot. So, the challenge still persists.” —Binaifer Kohli, producer
- “The pandemic has hit almost every business and the tV industry is no exception.” — Amir Jaffar, producer