With shoots coming to a halt in Maharashtra owing to the resurgent wave of Covid cases, the TV industry has been the worst hit. Episode banks are fast drying up, and although many shows have moved out to alternative locations as Goa, long-term sustenance of such a plan of action may not be feasible for all producers, given the fact that television is a platform that demands a regular flow of content.
Under the present circumstances, there are rumours that many producers are considering ending their shows, especially the ones with low ratings. Among shows that moved out of the state are "Hamari Wali Good News", "Kundali Bhagya", "Kumkum Bhagya" and "Qurbaan Hua". According to sources, "Shaadi Mubarak", starring Rati Pandey and Manav Gohil, is on a break. They aired new episodes till April 20. The break was prompted after Manav tested positive, which made the producers decide that the cast shouldn't travel because there were kids.
Popular shows such as "Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah" and "Bhabiji Ghar Par Hain!" are so far relying on episode banks created before lockdown to keep fresh episodes rolling. However, the makers are not sure about how to continue once they run out of fresh content.
Asit Kumarr Modi, creator of "Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah", says they have an episode bank till early May, and reruns are not an option for a popular show. "At present, airing reruns is not on the cards. We might consider shooting outside Maharashtra, but for that we have to take into consideration everyone's health and safety first. It's under discussion," he says, adding: "We are staying at home because right now nothing is more important than the health and safety of everyone. The ongoing episodes were shot in advance. The show has an episode bank that should sail us through until May 3," he said.
However, JD Majethia, chairman, Indian Film and Television Producers Council (IFTPC), has gone on record that there are a few shows that might consider closing down. "Some may (close down). But (there is) no confirmation from the channels (as of now)," he says, adding, "This is the biggest fear for television. This kind of break can take away viewers."
He adds: "Right now if lockdown is till April 30 and May 2, if shoots start in Mumbai, then I don't see any show going off air. It's IPL (season) and broadcasters will also not like to take any show off air now. They will not be able to replace them so soon with other shows. But if lockdown continues, shows that did not have good ratings will go off air and channels may reintroduce their successful shows as repeats."
Actress Shubhangi Atre, who plays Angoori Bhabhi in "Bhabiji Ghar Par Hain" and who is currently battling Covid, says her show has an episode bank but they need to get back to the set soon as possible. "Our show isn't being shot for the time being. We have a bank of episodes but shoot needs to start soon. We are waiting for an update. However, I am still battling Covid. My body is in the recovery period," she says.
Actress Mitali Nag, who is part of the show "Gum Hai Kisi Ke Pyar Mein", says in the case of shows that have moved outside Maharashtra, the entire team is not present. Only the people required for the shoot have been travelling.
"We did have a bank earlier, when the team moved to Goa. Due to Covid, everyone is not flying. They are only flying whoever is required. We still have a bank and the storyline has not changed as of now. Only, the location has changed. I am also going to fly there soon," she says.