Bollywood may not be the same again post Covid-19

By Lotty Alaric

 

June 29, 2020

New Delhi: As one of the largest cinema hubs of the world, the Indian Film industry, popularly called Bollywood, with its multi billion dollars net worth is all set to undergo a massive change post Covid-19 pandemic, just as the rest of the world.

The industry which functioned according to its own rules may find that it’s time to revisit those rules and start afresh if it really wants to run on its well-greased tracks once more before the directors can call ‘Lights, Camera Action!’

Virtual production could be one of the options for a few tasks to be accomplished which would give an opportunity to people to contribute from anywhere on the globe such as scheduling a story narration meeting on Zoom or discussing budgets but would it be long lasting is the question as this would have its own limitations.

Life on the sets would undergo numerous changes such as staggered call time and meal time. Temperature checking would be mandatory. Actors would have to cut down on their staff. The buffet system of eating could give way to home packed meals or individual packed meals for each and every person on the sets.

Sanitisation at very step would be the norm. High grade medical assistance on the sets would be a compulsion. Not to forget that all these would incur extra expenses.

The biggest challenge is to get the cinema buffs back into the cinema halls because in these challenging times entertainment would be the last thing on their minds. Added to that the social distancing, to be followed in theatres would take away from the romance of going to the movies. The morning shows in particular which are frequented by love birds would have no takers. So, all that hand holding in the darkness of the cinema hall would have to wait.

In all this mayhem some stars may heave a sigh of relief for the time being as they wouldn’t have to go show hopping from one channel to another promoting their films.

Talking about the OTT platforms they are definitely flourishing with the added advantage of films being released on this medium. But whether this medium is sustainable for long particularly for films is a question mark. The economic logistics could go for a toss sooner than later as the returns wouldn’t let the makers go laughing all the way to the bank in a hurry. Film content would have to essentially undergo a huge change catering to the taste of the OTT platform viewer. This means that film canvas would shrink and how.

The larger than life cinema that we are so used to today may undergo a colossal change as it would have to cater to a very select viewer who instead of watching a film on 70mm is now merely confined to a mobile phone screen. The whole experience of watching a new release on a massive screen is reduced to a lonely experience. The impact is definitely not the same. Going to the movies is set to alter.

Post Covid-19 pandemic world could actually be the game changer for cinema in India. Film making expenses are set to go through the roof due to tight finances for one. Fewer people on sets would mean employment loss for many. Additional safety measures would incur higher costs. The list could actually be pretty long. If substantial measures are not taken it wouldn’t be easy to make films for many including regional cinema.

Short film makers would be particularly hit as it would be challenging for them to secure funds and shoot with such high restrictions. Big production houses may not feel the pinch so severely but things would definitely not be the same for them too if this pandemic lasts for long.

Now let’s shift focus on the status of the actors. Lately we have seen very unfortunate incidents of actors committing suicides or trying to sell vegetables to make ends meet. Some of them reached out through social media and requested for financial support, which they thankfully even received. Now there are some crucial points that need to be highlighted. In any industry every employee is paid at the end of the month but the Television industry for some reason pays their actors only after 95 days. If this is not arbitrary then what is? Don’t actors need to pay up their monthly bills like everyone else? It’s high time this is looked into. As of now just a couple of production houses are thinking of scrapping the 95 day payment cycle. Whether this would become a norm post covid is still not a surety.

Sadly there has hardly been much support for the actors from any quarters during the pandemic. Most of them won’t even seek support due to their self-respect and their public image. A lot many of them suffer in silence. Here it is important to mention that many well to do stars are leaving no stone unturned to help the public which is a great initiative but sadly there is no door open for the actors. Hence the sad suicide cases that we read about so often these days. Depression in these trying times and uncertainty of work are the leading causes of these suicides. This is also the time to look at the working hours. Unnaturally long hours of shoot and no weekly offs take a toll on the actors and other technical staff. This is particularly challenging for child artists. All the loopholes need to be plugged so that everyone remains in optimum health and their immunity is not compromised at any cost.

The only upside is that story ideas can be developed, screenplays can be written, self-auditions can be given and some pre-production can be done during this period.

These are tough times indeed. This crisis will definitely be over but till that happens it would be pertinent for all of us to stand together. The Indian Film Industry will most definitely rise once again and entertain us all with cutting edge technology put to good use. But this is a certainly a call for practical decisions to be taken so that no one feels short changed in the run.

—-Indian News Stream