These are unusual and unprecedented times indeed. The world has come to a standstill. Each one of us forced to stop and look at ourselves and life with a different perspective. Suddenly, the smallest pleasures seem invaluable. What earlier seemed as insurmountable, now appear manageable. Life seems to have turned on its head for the entire world. And we find ourselves united in worry and grief. The future is uncertain.
For the film industry, it is an unusual predicament, and this holds true for the entire filmmaking industry across regions - not just Bollywood. For an industry that weaves dreams and creates the most impossible scenarios, there is nothing we can do till circumstances change for the better. We understand that it would take some time before the wheels turn and cameras start rolling.
Why look too far? Let me start with my own production company. Anand Pandit Motion Pictures is looking at two big releases this year - Chehre with Mr Bachchan scheduled for release in July and Big Bull with Abhishek which still has about four days shoot left. We were lucky that we weren’t midway in a shoot. Yes, there has been a disruption to the rhythm of work. And I foresee a lot of reworking on our plans. And I am not even talking about newer projects that are in the developmental stage.
I worry. Films like Angrezi Medium suffered because theatres closed. Many big films were scheduled for release but now find themselves without a release date having already spent crores on their promotion. This is going to cascade and affect all releases this year. On an average we see a minimum of 4-5 releases every Friday. Now do the math.
I worry for the smaller projects and smaller production houses. Success in this industry depends a lot on keeping the lid on budgets and getting the maximum out of the investment. There may be some who may have borrowed, some who may have sold assets. There will be others who may have worked tirelessly for the past several months even a year, possibly without making any money, waiting for that big payday. New projects will take time to be greenlit. Now they are all stuck. The uncertainty is quite daunting to put it mildly.
We must understand that there has been a ripple effect all across the country. For the industry everything will need to be restarted. It’s like a giant turbo engine. Manpower will need to be assembled. Daily wage earners will need to return. Studios will need to be hired. Work will have to begin on the sets. The infrastructure will need to be acquired and put together. And for all this people should be ready to step out of their homes.
On the other side. Shoots will need to be rescheduled. New dates will need to be obtained. Actors will need to juggle their dairies. New locations will need to be recced keeping in mind travel restrictions. A lot of shoots are planned abroad keeping in mind the local subsidy available. Now that may or may not be available or even be an option. So the budgets will need to be reworked. More importantly, we would need to start thinking of the safety of the entire unit while choosing foreign location. Accordingly, some scripts will need to be tweaked and altered a bit. Some producers may even need to reshoot certain portions of their films.
The people who could make the best out of this situation, to my mind, are perhaps writers. I would like to think that. Plenty of time to write, to rejig stories, plots, for script writers, editors. Even for poets and music composers. The actors will hopefully be fitter if their Instagram accounts are to be believed. Just hope that doesn’t affect the continuity of their characters in their films. Like they say, every time you find some humour in a difficult situation, you win.
But the fact remains that the industry will need to come together as one and give each other a helping hand. We will have to be more united than ever before. Perhaps this may be a time for the industry look at their costs, fees and margins. It's not the same world anymore.
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