BH Correspondent, Kolkata: When West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced on Monday that the cinema halls will be shut down, and shooting of reality TV shows will be stopped till March 31 as a precautionary measure to fight COVID-19, the Bengali film and TV industry was almost prepared that they would have to close down shooting of movies, TV serials and web series.
So, on Tuesday, it came as no surprise when state youth welfare minister Arup Biswas in the presence of Bengali directors, producers and members of Eastern India Motion Pictures Association (EIMPA) announced that the shooting of Bengali films, TV serials and web series would be shut down from March 18 till March 30 in the state. The meeting was also attended by members of Federation of Cine Technicians and Workers of Eastern India (FCTWEI), West Bengal Motion Picture Artists’ Forum, channel representatives, directors and producers.
“We have decided to shut down shooting of Bengali films, TV serials, and web series from March 18-March 30,” said Biswas who chaired the meeting. The chief minister will again review the situation of the state on March 30, and if need be, the date can be extended.
Raj Chakraborty, who had postponed his upcoming Bengali release Dharmajuddha, which was supposed to hit the theatres on April 3, due to coronavirus outbreak, said, “We have put the interest of humanity above all. This is an unprecedented situation.” In fact, Raj and Subhashree have also urged the audiences to remain safe and careful and wash hands as frequently as possible.
Federation, WATP, Channel Representatives met today at Nandan to decide that all productions to be suspended from 18th March to 30th March due to the widespread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pic.twitter.com/l1GsGqVNnz
— rajchoco (@iamrajchoco) March 17, 2020
Of course, with the shutdown of the shooting, it’s the daily wagers especially the technicians who will be the most affected. When asked about them, Raj said, “At this point of time, more than the economy of the country, we need to think about the safety and health of all of us.”
It’s a request to everyone to be safe and careful. We shall overcome this pandemic. We will come back soon with our film for you all. Keep supporting us. Take care. https://t.co/uQiEXS5lnh
— subhashree ganguly (@subhashreesotwe) March 16, 2020
Generally, in case of Bengali serials, most production houses do not have banking for more than two-three days. So, most of the channels will have to run repeat telecast of daily soaps. Arindam Ganguly, general secretary, Bengal Motion Picture Artists’ Forum, praised the chief minister for her stringent actions on the fight against coronavirus in the state.
“The way the CM has taken steps to combat prevent the spread of coronavirus in West Bengal is highly appreciable. In this tough time, we should all be by her side and support her,” he said.
Piya Sengupta, president, EIMPA, also echoed sounded similar sentiment. “After the CM reviews the situation, we will call for a meeting and decide on our next step.” She also informed that the teams who are shooting outside are told to return to West Bengal as soon as possible due to coronavirus outbreak.
Meanwhile, the sudden shut down of cinema halls and films have resulted in the cancellation of a lot of shooting of movie schedules. Srimanta Sengupta was supposed to start shooting of his debut Bengali film Abar Bochhor Koori Pore starring Abir Chatterjee, Arpita Chatterjee and Tanusree Chakraborty in Kalimpong. Interdisciplinary artiste Sujoy Prosad Chatterjee has also stopped his debut directorial Home in this crisis.
Mimi Chakraborty and Jeet, who were in London to shoot for Anshuman Pratyush’s Baazi, are on their way back home. This is also because of the recent ban by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on the entry of passengers from UK, Turkey and EU countries from March 18 -31.
On Tuesday early morning, Jeet took to Twitter to inform that “we have decided to cancel the shoot of our next #Baazi in London & we are returning on immediate basis back to our respective nests with the respective cast and crew.”
— Jeet (@jeet30) March 16, 2020
Srijit Mukherji and his Kakababur Protyaborton will be returning to Kolkata on March 19 from South Africa. They have been camping in South Africa from March 1.
Dev’s Bangladeshi film Commando also got cancelled due to coronavirus. Meanwhile, Mainak Bhowmik’s Chini has also been postponed.
The shutdown of cinema halls has severely affected new releases like Indrasish Acharya’s Parcel starring Saswata Chatterjee and Rituparna Sengupta. “We cannot spend too much money on promotion of a film on the kind of movies I make. I just hope when we come back after the break, we will get some space in the theatres,” said Indrasish, who earlier directed the critically acclaimed Pupa.
On Sunday, Federation of Western Indian Cine Employees (FWICE), Indian Film & Television Directors’ Association (IFTDA), Indian Motion Pictures Producers’ Association (IMPPA), Western India Film Producers’ Association (WIFPA) and Indian Film and TV Producers Council (IFTPC) decided to stop shooting of films, TV serials and web series till March 31 to control the spread of COVID-19.