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Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray (ANI)
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray (ANI)

Covid-19: Maharashtra plans to allow film and TV industry resume business

  • Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray meets producers and actors from the entertainment industry
  • Thackeray says in the green or orange zones, the entertainment industry can start filming in a limited way by taking precautions

MUMBAI : Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, on Wednesday, said that the state, which is the home to Bollywood film industry, is open to work on a plan to allow resumption of the entertainment industry if it agrees for a limited number of filming or post-production processes and strictly follow physical distancing rules within a restricted environment.

Thackeray met a number of producers and actors from the entertainment industry, especially from Marathi films and those from the drama sector and entertainment series industry.

The meeting was attended by additional chief secretary to the chief minister's secretariat Ashish Kumar Singh, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister Vikas Kharge, Cultural Affairs Secretary Dr. Sanjay Mukherjee and several eminent producers and artists, said Thackeray in a statement.

Producer Nitin Vaidya told Thackeray that shooting activities of 110 series including 70 Hindi , 40 Marathi and 10 over-the-top (OTT) contents have been stopped due to covid-19 and about 3 lakh workers and technicians have been affected due to the pandemic and the lockdown.

At least 30,000 episodes are produced every year, said Vaidya.

He said that 5,000 crore has already been invested in Hindi series and another 250 crore of investment is in the pipeline.

“Demands were made by the producers for unsecured loans and low interest advances; saving one- screen cinemas; helping poor musicians; subsidizing Marathi films; waiving GST on film production; and allowing filming in Sangli-Kolhapur," said the CM statement.

“Some of the industry people also said that various shows and programs should be allowed for the upcoming Ganpati and next season by following the rules of physical distancing, wearing mask etc., so that the loss could be compensated to some extent," said Thackeray.

Thackeray said that in the green or orange zones, the entertainment industry can start filming in a limited way by taking precautions and limiting the number of people in the filming team.

“If permission is to be granted in the studio carrying out the editing process, instructions will also have to be given regarding the space and air conditioning system," said Thackeray, asking the department of cultural affairs and the producers to see if some such filming would be possible before the rains.

“The entertainment sector is not only entertaining but people follow them, learn from them, try to find the joys and sorrows they see in real life, hence the sector is important. The entertainment and recreation sector in Maharashtra is huge. There are big and small artists earning a living on this, besides technicians, backstage artists, workers also constitute a big class," said Thackeray, adding that those whose sets are currently standing in “Chitrapatnagari" (film city) would definitely be considered for rent concessions, folk art and spectacle artists.

The chief minister apprised the state government on how the coronavirus issue is being tackled and said that the state is now more focused on the containment zones.

Thackeray said that some people in the state have been criticizing the government for the lockdown.

“But for the good of Maharashtra, I am fine being criticized," said Thackeray.

“With proper care industries, businesses and shops should be started. With the exception of the containment zone, some transactions have already started," said Thackeray.

With 37, 136 covid-19 cases, Maharashtra is the worst-hit state as on Wednesday. The state confirmed 2,078 coronavirus cases for the third consecutive day. Mumbai alone accounted for over 22,746 cases as on Wednesday. The state’s fatalities due to coronavirus infection also has crossed 1,300.

“It is true that patients are growing. The crisis is still raging. The central government has projected a large number of patients later this month and in June," said Thackeray.

On Tuesday, Maharashtra government revised the guidelines for the fourth phase of lockdown allowing resumption of certain businesses in the state’s red zones but imposing stricter norms for social distancing and movement of people.

The prolonged lockdown has hurt the state's finances badly. Last week, Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray had said that the state has lost at least Rs. 35,000 crore since the lockdown and the central government should provide a relief in the form of GST refund.

“Now we have not stopped the economic cycle. I will not respond immediately to your criticism because I feel it is important to carry out my responsibilities right now and in any case I will take care of all of you. On this occasion, all the artists and producers have assured the chief minister that they would fully support him in his endeavours," said Thackeray’s statement.

In a statement on Tuesday evening, the state government said that except for containment zones, from 22 May all other areas within red zones can keep both essential and non-essential shops open, with the non-essential shops being subjected to strict guidelines specified by the concerned municipal corporation.

The government’s classified red zones include all municipal corporations of Mumbai Metropolitan Region including MCGM; Municipal corporation of Pune, Solapur, Aurangabad, Malegaon, Nashik, Dhule, Jalgaon, Akola and Amravati. The remaining areas of the state will be considered as orange and green zones.

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