BH CORRESPONDENT, Kolkata: After various state governments closed down schools, colleges, universities and asked offices to allow their employees to work from home to contain the spread of coronavirus in India, which has climbed to 102 confirmed cases, the film bodies have decided to put shooting of TV shows, films and web series on hold from March 19-31.
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 for a few days to control the spread of COVID-19.
Ashoke Pandit, president, IFTDA said the move was important given the increasing health concerns over coronavirus cases and the associations collectively decided that the health of workers is paramount.
Now, it goes without saying that this decision has also impacted the Bengali film and TV industry. On Monday, the Eastern India Motion Pictures Association (EIMPA) will hold an emergency meeting at 4pm with Federation of Cine Technicians and Workers of Eastern India (FCTWEI), West Bengal Motion Picture Artists’ Forum and other bodies.
Piya Sengupta, president, EIMPA, said they would take the final call on Monday. Arindam Ganguly of Artists’ Forum, however, said given the grim situation, if needed, they should shut down all productions for the time being. He understands there would be a huge monetary loss given none of the daily serials have a bank of episodes, but since health is at stake, Ganguly is open to the decision.
Same is the case with Firdausul Hasan, the president of Film Federation of India. He, too, wants the shooting to be stalled for a while.
A television director and producer on condition of anonymity informed us that in such a situation most TV channels would be forced to telecast old episodes. “The luckiest producers might have a banking of 4-5 days, but most TV serials have a banking of two days maximum. Given this is a health crisis, most channels will have to show re-runs of old shows,” he said.
Most of the Indian states barring Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat, Jharkhand and West Bengal have stopped screening films in the cinema halls too. This is to prevent a large gathering of people. After FWICE’s decision to halt shooting for a while to contain the spread of COVID-19 in India, there’s a strong buzz in Kolkata that March 19 onwards, the cinema halls would also be closed down till March 31.
A producer on condition of anonymity said, “There’s a chance that the movie theatres will also be closed down for two weeks. Channels will play repeats and TRPs of news channels will increase. Also, channels screening films will benefit. And those dubbing the serials will also benefit in this period,” he said.
Meanwhile, Shiboprosad Mukhopadhyay’s recently-released production Brahma Janen Gopon Kommoti is performing exceeding well at the box office and is already a hit. When asked the producer if the movie theatres shut down, it will hamper the business, Shiboprosad said, “Nothing can be done in this situation if this really happens. We will pick up from where we will leave behind.”
And no, his much-awaited Bela Shuru has a release date in June. So, he isn’t worried. Dev, who is producing two films – Tonic and Hobu Chandra Raja Gobu Chandra Mantri – in May told us that it is too early to think about postponing release. Meanwhile, there are quite a few Bengali releases like Rawto Rahashyo, Dracula Sir, Guldasta and Hridpindo in April. Let’s wait and watch if their release postpone or not due to COVID-19.