Testing times for film industry

Testing times for film industry

BP + B3

Producers rally around their crew, who’re forced out of work by the shutdown

With the entire country and the world at large coming to a standstill due to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s not surprising that Bollywood is already reeling from the after-effects. Release dates of upcoming films cannot be decided till there is clarity on when the lockdown will be lifted. Films like Looop Lapeta, Taapsee Pannu starrer Rashmi RocketSatyameva Jayate 2, Shakun Batra’s yet-untitled directorial and Ek Villain 2, to name a few, which were in prep and gearing up to roll in the coming months, have been indefinitely postponed. The run of those already in the theatres has been cut short abruptly. Several TV shows, web series and films which were in the midst of production have had to be halted mid-way. Ditto for films like RadheAtrangi ReGangubai KathiawadiDostana 2, Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2JerseyMumbai Saga, Vidya Balan-starrer SherniNikamma and Durgavati. The producers of these films, TV shows and web series, are already calculating potential losses. They will be impaired by increased salary costs, along with expenses incurred on the sets that were already made and on capital. These losses are not even covered by insurance policies. Several filmmakers have had to exercise the Force Majeure clause (unforeseeable circumstances that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract) with their crew and suspend services until the lockdown is lifted.

Tanuj Garg, one of the producers of Looop Lapeta, an official remake of the Hollywood thriller Run Lola Run, said, “It is a testing time, whether you have a project up for release, in prep or under production. Everyone in the value chain has been affected by the uncertainty and the ticking fixed costs. Let’s hope that things normalise soon.”

In times of crises, the film industry has always stood together and this time too, it is no different. Sajid Nadiadwala has come forward to support the cast and crew of his projects, including the Tiger Shroff and Shraddha Kapoor-starrer Baaghi 3, whose theatrical run was interrupted, Ahan Shetty’s launch pad, the RX 100 remake the film’s shoot had to be halted in light of the industry-wide shutdown—and the Akshay Kumar-starrer Bachchan Pandey, which was getting ready to go on the floors.

Bachchan Pandey is currently being scripted. Director Farhad Samji and his team were to go on a recce in a fortnight’s time. But now, the location hunt has been pushed to a later date. “A local crew was hired and their dues have been settled,” informed a source, adding that post-release dues of those involved with Baaghi 3 have also been cleared.

The RX 100 remake was being shot with around 250 crew members in Mumbai. Sajid has also cleared their dues on priority basis. “He even paid the technical team some advance as their livelihood depends on daily wages. The operations at his production house have come to a halt but there’s little that anyone can do about it except remain patient,” the source said.