Small dance floors, humble places: how Bollywood adapts to COVID-19


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Bollywood director Shakun Batra initially considered Sri Lanka’s beaches to be the venue for his latest film, a relationship drama for one of India’s largest studios.

However, with the COVID-19 pandemic making international travel almost impossible, he had to choose another location immediately.

“I think you look like an athlete and the rules of the game have changed,” Batra said by telephone from Goa, south of Mumbai, where he lived as a reserve.

A few months later locking and uncertainty, the world’s largest film industry has resumed operations. But at a time when the pandemic is still raging, many people are wondering how Bollywood actors and crews should work and how to take away the sights and dance sections it is known for.

The shooting comes amid the COVID-19 epidemic, which India has struggled to control, with nearly 9 million infections reported, second only to U.S. scientists. estimate Hundreds of thousands of new infections are not detected every week because of the lack of social distance.

“It’s hard because you have to take the same creative approach, but you have to meet the new conditions,” Batra said.

People gather near the market to hold Diwali holiday shops in Mumbai, India

In November, people gather at the market where the Diwali Festival will be held in Mumbai, India.

(Rajanish Kakade / Associated Press)

After selecting new locations for it The film still has no titleLeaving Dharma Productions in April, he was forced to deal with another issue: COVID-19 cases in the package. Batra declined to give further details, but said the infections had slowed the shootings as people had to be quarantined and the packages had to be sealed.

The film packages took various measures.

Disinfection and unproven Sterilization rooms that use ultraviolet light for camera sets and crew members.

Directors are shooting at skeleton crews, makeup artists are working without assistants, and the stars have asked to leave their families. Several works denied a Times reporter’s request to participate in the filming.

Producer of the film “Dostana 2”, 2008 sequel romantic comedy blockbusterThere are only 300 dancers, not 300, who are trying to learn how to make a wedding – one of the signed scenes of Bollywood movies.

“Big numbers with hundreds of dancers – they’re definitely in danger,” said Jehan Handa, the film’s assistant director.

“The number of people in your song in Bollywood depends on its budget – if you can afford to buy hundreds of dancers and all their costumes, it will be a very, very important song. It’s a little bit and it may seem a little cheap. “

Actors and crew members are tested for COVID-19 and have their temperature checked daily, but then the test is accurate – and every shot is risky.

“You have to be close to each other during the filming, otherwise it won’t look real,” said actress Neha Sharma. “You will definitely feel weak. I think we can do something. “

In May, the government of Maharashtra, which includes the Mumbai movie hub, issued instructions requiring crews to work one-third of their normal size and to wear masks and gloves at a distance of six meters. Those on camera will be released, but the state said “no extra scenes should be filmed” until the threat of a pandemic subsides.

However, security levels vary. Some crews are accommodated in five-star hotels, quarantined a week before filming, and ordered to wear full body armor when shooting 12 hours or more a day.

Others have less precautionary measures, which are believed to have led to the release of COVID-19 kits. Then things happened reported Earlier this fall, there were many disruptions among the cast and crew of Hindi TV series, leading to skyrocketing costs.

“In fact, people have to work, even if they feel safe,” he said, referring to a member of the production team who asked to remain anonymous in order to protect his work. “In the Bollywood hierarchy, only stars and directors have the opportunity to stop or resume shooting. “I’ve heard some actors say, ‘I don’t have any signs, let’s go.’

Although the capital of India visual effects with outsourcing For Hollywood – and “Padmaavat“And the”Baahubali“Reflecting digital scenes – this process is too expensive for most Indian producers.

“The West can only spend $ 10 million on special effects – that’s almost the majority of the budget for some movies,” said producer Conark Govariker.

Usually, the biggest source of income for a film is theatricality. But restrictions on theaters – only a few states have opened them and allowed most to operate at half capacity – have prevented production companies from investing in big-budget movies.

More movies are being released live flow platforms with big-screen legends such as Netflix and Amazon’s Prime Video Amitabh Bachchan – Those who recovered from COVID-19 in August – made their digital debut.

Students take portraits of Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan and his family in July, who tested positive for the coronavirus

Student artists took portraits of Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan and his family after his son and two other family members tested positive for the coronavirus in July.

(Rajanish Kakade / Associated Press)

The industry’s hope is that theaters will be revived and that Indian interest in movie stars is worth the wait.

“In America, people watch a movie once, maybe twice,” Govariker said. “In India, if people like a movie, they go five times. If they like the actor, but the film is bad, they can go three times. ”

For now, the restrictions could result in small-scale family dramas that include simple collections of films made by several independent Indian directors.

Rohan Narula, a screenwriter from Mumbai, said: “Now we see the main producers giving the green light because it is safe and COVID compliant.”

After the pandemic exposed India’s widespread social inequality – with millions of people labor migrants When the nationwide lockdown was announced in March, the poor were forced to go home – some filmmakers believe that all the singers who usually sing in Bollywood dance and may have less appetite for high-end glamor.

“The value of the stars has really hit a big hit, and the simple guy and his price have skyrocketed,” Handa said. “People who couldn’t afford to stay home were there during the pandemic.”

Sanghera is a special correspondent.


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