This is such an insane time and all of our lives have been completely turned upside down. It feels like something out of a movie but it is not...” Many are identifying with this honest confession of Priyanka Chopra, in a video in which she adds, “It just feels crazy.”
As all shootings stand cancelled and theatres shut amidst the coronavirus outbreak, it is indeed crazy times for the film industry. The magic date — March 31 — beckons, holding out hope that the nightmare would end by then and life would resume normalcy.
But with less than 10 days to go, the situation certainly doesn’t look too promising. And the losses look set to mount... Trade analyst Komal Nahta’s prediction of the Hindi film industry standing to lose Rs.800 crore owing to delays in releases and shooting schedules, could well escalate further as the crises worsens.
While the shutdown of cinema halls immediately hit new releases Baaghi 3 and Angrezi Medium, the release dates of several films including Brahmastra, Sooryavanshi, Vicky Kaushal’s Udham Singh biopic, James Bond’s next No Time To Die and Fast and Furious 9 have been postponed.
Similarly, the new release dates of Sooryavanshi and ’83 have been pushed back and are yet to be revealed.
With all production work halted from March 19, shooting of a number of films including Jersey, Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2, Brahmastra, Salman Khan’s Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai, Vidya Balan’s Sherni, Bhumi Pednekar’s Durgavati and John Abraham’s Mumbai Saga have also screeched to a halt.
With the month of March registering unparalleled loss, even B-town’s biggest are feeling the pinch. As T-Series head honcho Bhushan Kumar stated, “This the worst time, not just for the film industry but for everyone.
As far as the industry is concerned, business is getting hampered. It's too early to put any number as we don't know when
the situation will be normal.” Film distributor Rajesh Thadani has termed the first quarter of 2020 the “worst” in terms of business, declaring that the impact will be huge on the second quarter as well.
For the second quarter has multiple films coming up for release which is bound to trigger rampant confusion on a packed release calendar.
Bollywood’s woes are a long way from over...
Struggling to survive
While the creamy layer — namely the stars and producers — are equipped to wait out the tide, the lower rung comprising the daily wage earners, including spot boys, carpenters, lightmen, stuntmen, painters, are already facing the brunt.
The livelihood of these behind-the-camera personnel who work in production units in various capacities, is down to zilch.
Even as many have reportedly started leaving the city for their home towns, the question, as trade analyst Taran Adarsh asks, looms: Woh kya khayenge?
The silver lining is that several associations have come to their aid. The Producers Guild of India has set up a relief fund to help those most affected by the shutdown.
Siddharth Roy Kapur, President, Producers Guild of India, in a statement, appealed to the entire film fraternity to contribute to the fund, “to ensure that we can do all we can to minimise the disruption in the lives of our valued colleagues and associates in this difficult time.”
Starting March 22, the Federation of Western India Cine Employees will also distribute rations and basic material of daily needs to daily wage earners, for a week.
Even as Komal Nahta has urged A-list actors to step forward and donate generously towards the welfare of the workers, Taran Adarsh feels directors and producers should also do likewise until work is resumed. It’s all about loving your extended family, right?