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Many producers are looking at insurance options, too. (Photo: Mint)
Many producers are looking at insurance options, too. (Photo: Mint)

TV shootings begin amid unlocking, but with strict controls

Television producers are keeping the number of people on sets low and are avoiding outdoor shoots

NEW DELHI : Lights, camera, action, hand-sanitizer! Television producers and broadcasters have resumed shooting after government approval a week ago, haltingly and with many self-imposed constraints.

On top of their minds is the fear of crew members contracting covid, disrupting schedules in the absence of insurance cover.

“One important aspect would be to provide an insurance cover to all the producers, the details of which are being worked out," said Mansi Darbar, network vice-president, corporate strategy and development, IN10 Media Network, which runs channels such as EPIC TV, ShowBox and Filamchi.

Several producers across film, television, and web projects are dealing with fear that a team member could fall ill during shooting or on set. Many wonder if they would have to bear the loss of halting production and quarantining the entire unit, especially if it is an outdoor shoot. Broadcasters and producers are figuring out what insurance can cover and how much it would cost.

The other problem is getting actors to turn up. “The majority of them are ready but some aren’t willing as yet so it’s really a question of life versus livelihood," Darbar said.

Those who are scared to come to work are staying home and the company is working with “eager artistes" only, said Arabinda Dasgupta, vice-president, television and new media, Shree Venkatesh Films (SVF).

“We have had to tweak storylines here and there to account for social distancing measures. We are also using mannequins in scenes where physical touch between actors is required," said Dasgupta whose company has five shows on air, Prothoma Kadombini, Chuni Panna, and Durga Durgeshwari on Star Jalsha and Trinayani and Joy Baba Loknath on Zee Bangla.

SVF is abiding by government mandates to have thermal checks, personal protecting equipment, sanitizers, packaged food, and disposable wooden cutlery on sets. Shoots are being held between 6 am and 8 pm. The main studio floor is sanitized twice a day, before and after shoot, make-up rooms and washrooms are sanitized every one hour.

“We’re confining shoots to a studio and not looking at outdoors such as roads and other buildings. The number of people on the main set is restricted to 35 and activities such as editing and programming are being done from home or other offices," Dasgupta said.

“While it was slow to start with, as everyone was learning to operate in the new normal, our teams are now getting into the new rhythm of shooting and are able to deliver almost the same levels on quantity of content per day as it used to be in pre-covid times," said Punit Misra, chief executive officer, domestic broadcast business, Zee, which has resumed shooting of fiction shows in Karnataka, Odisha, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal, and is preparing to begin in Punjab and Maharashtra.

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