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Actor Sara Ali Khan is set to begin shooting for director Aanand L. Rai’s romantic drama 'Atrangi Re' in Madurai. (ANI)
Actor Sara Ali Khan is set to begin shooting for director Aanand L. Rai’s romantic drama 'Atrangi Re' in Madurai. (ANI)

Film shoots resume amid strict safety measures

  • Feature filmmakers are looking at masks, face shields, sanitization tunnels and minimal crew to set the ball rolling and instil confidence in their teams

New Delhi: After a four-month wait, a bunch of films across languages have resumed shoot or have announced plans to do so soon. While Akshay Kumar and team have flown off to the UK for espionage thriller Bellbottom, Dhanush and Sara Ali Khan will begin shooting for director Aanand L. Rai’s romantic drama Atrangi Re in Madurai. Boutique film studio Yoodlee Films has begun work on two projects, Comedy Couple in Hindi and Zombivali in Marathi. Bengali film Magic also started shoot this week.

To be sure, while far behind the television industry that began work earlier in July, feature filmmakers are looking at masks, face shields, sanitization tunnels and minimal crew to set the ball rolling and instil confidence in their teams.

Siddharth Anand Kumar, vice-president, films and events at Saregama, which owns Yoodlee, said people from the production house have been in touch with healthcare experts to monitor every shooting schedule. In fact, they have a designated covid officer on sets, who is in charge of ensuring all hygiene and safety measures are strictly followed.

“We have deployed specialized personnel on the sets who are responsible that all health and safety measures are followed to the T, by everyone. Covid is a reality we are all grappling with, but the show must go on," Kumar said in a statement to announce the resumption of shoots.

Pooja Entertainment, the production house backing Bellbottom is being equally meticulous. Besides medical-grade masks and face shields, after consulting medical experts, the company is making it mandatory for all cast and crew to wear a wrist watch that will constantly monitor their oxygen levels, body temperature, blood pressure, stress levels and pulse. A centralized dashboard will constantly record the parameters of the entire unit and keep a check for any changes in readings, it said in a statement. On-set guidelines to be followed at all times include maintaining social distancing of a minimum of six feet wherever possible, besides which hand-sanitizing stations will be made available at various touchpoints and all surface areas and equipment will be disinfected frequently using alcohol-based sanitizers before and after every shoot.

Last month, as film units geared up to resume work, the Indian Film and Television Directors’ Association issued a statement appealing to the fraternity to remain extra cautious and take precautions while on set or finishing post production. The news came in the wake of actors like Amitabh and Abhishek Bachchan and TV star Parth Samthaan having tested positive for covid-19.

Prathyusha Agarwal, chief consumer officer, ZEE, said that challenges across language markets (in the entertainment industry) are pretty much the same with fewer crew members on the sets. Having to re-craft scripts to ensure that the logistics of the shoot can be managed within the constraints, it’s a new way of figuring out how to do more with less—people, time and resources.

“It is not a question of feasibility (of guidelines) anymore, no one really has a choice on that count. Keeping the tempo going will be important. We will start taking all the precautions in the beginning but after a few days of work, people should not take it easy like what is generally being seen across the world—people are fearing the pandemic much less today than they were a month ago," producer Anand Pandit said.

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