After a three month lockdown, the entertainment industry has started taking baby steps to begin shooting again. But, it is definitely not as easy as it seems. After going through the harrowing experience of huge losses, shootings halved and cinema halls shut; now comes the reality check. How does one shoot with the virus looming large? Maintaining social distancing, using masks, sanitizing equipments is all in one a huge task.
First came the news of Big B Amitabh Bachchan and AbhisheK Bachchan testing Covid positive. And yesterday, as reported by Balaji Telefilm’s official Twitter handle that Kasautii Zindagi Kay actor Parth Samthaan tested positive for Covid-19.
The actor even confirmed the news on his Instagram handle and wrote, “Hi everyone, I have been tested Positive for covid 19 .although I have mild symptoms. I would urge and request everyone whose been with me in close proximity over the last few days please go and get yourself tested. The Bmc has regularly been in touch and with the doctors guidance I am in self quarantine and I am grateful to them for all their support. Please be safe and take care.”
The shooting was immediately stopped and the studio Klick Nixon (Sakinaka, Mumbai) where Kasautii and other Balaji Telefilms’ shows are filmed. The entire cast and crew of Kasautii were made to go take the tests.
Along with Kasautii, three other shows of Balaji Telefilms namely Kumkum Bhayga, and Pavitra Bhagya’s shooting was stopped and cast and crew were immediately sent home.
Many actors have even walked out of shows to ensure the safety of the cast and crew. The cast of Neela Telefilms’ Taarak Mehta Ka Oolta Chasma was one of the last teams to resume shooting as they wanted to ensure all the safety measures.
OTT takes over the film releases
Though, no new films are being shot but film releases were halted with theatres and multiplexes shut. After waiting for 90 days for theatrical release, Amazon Prime Video sent ripples through India’s entertainment industry by announcing the premiere of Shoojit Sircar’s Gulabo Sitabo (starring Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana) on its platform on June 12.
The MAI issued a statement asking content creators, to kindly respect the exclusive theatrical window, which has been a time-tested industry practice, agreed to by all stakeholders, not just in India, but even globally, for several decades,”
But within a week of MAI’s letter, Amazon Prime Video went on to not only announce the premiere of Gulabo Sitabo, but also revealed that it has acquired six other Indian films for its ‘direct-to-digital’ slate. These include the much-awaited Shakuntala Devi biopic starring Vidya Balan, and five regional language films that will premier exclusively on Prime Video in the next three months across 200+ countries.
Even Disney + hotstar went ahead and has acquired seven films for its OTT platform. Uday Shankar – President, The Walt Disney Company APAC and Chairman, Star & Disney India, said, “At Disney+ Hotstar, we firmly believe in pushing boundaries to achieve the unexpected. A few years ago, we took an audacious step of bringing sports closer to people by streaming it live on mobile devices – a move that forever changed the course of LIVE sports in India.
As we launch Disney+ Hotstar Multiplex, we find ourselves yet again at the cusp of making a revolutionary change by bringing the biggest Bollywood movies directly to millions across the country. We are happy to partner with the best directors and most talented actors; and provide them with a platform to present their masterpieces.”
These are big developments as far the movie release business goes. Viewers are already lapping up movies on demand as and when they want for a fraction of the cost. Experts opine that this is a boon for small and medium budget films which do not find it viable to do a theatrical release. Producers can easily recover their cost here.
Normally, as the norm goes there is a windowing period during which the film will just be available in theatres, and only after the lock-in period is over are its rights made available for television broadcast and digital stream. Globally, this window has been challenged many times. ‘Beasts of No Nation’ was released simultaneously on Netflix and theatres in 2015.
Many feel this is to be seen in a positive light as OTT has come in to help us during these gloomy times. It offers some respite as the movies can be released instead of waiting for a year or so. There has been an increased usage of these platforms
The global entertainment sector will lose $160 billion of growth due to the Covid2109 pandemic in the coming five years, according to research by Ampere Analysis. “While the biggest impact will be felt in 2020 and throughout 2021, growth will be reduced each year for the duration of the five-year forecast period.
As per FICCI,The Indian media and entertainment industry, worth INR 1.82 trillion in 2019 (according to FICCI), is now staring at INR 25,000 crore loss (CRISIL).