PATNA: Some of Bollywood’s iconic dance scenes may soon become history as India’s new guidelines for the coronavirus-shuttered film industry allow it to reopen under conditions that may completely reshape movie production.
The film and television industries were put on hold in late March when a nationwide lockdown was imposed in the wake of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Last week, India’s broadcasting ministry announced that both could resume, but with necessary health protocols in place.
Superstar Saif Ali Khan said he was “dreading” the return to shooting as he prepares for “Bunty Aur Babli 2” with co-star Rani Mukherjee. One scene was planned to feature scores of chorus dancers, but the new guidelines impose strict crowd management on film sets.
“I am not sure a chorus dance number is safe anymore,” Khan told Arab News.
According to his producer, Aditya Chopra, the number of dancers appearing in the scene will be severely reduced. Many filmmakers, including Anees Bazmee, the director of blockbusters “No Entry” and “Welcome,” feel that eliminating the chorus presence from dance numbers will only work short term.
“Where will these wage earners go if they are eliminated? The government’s guidelines are only a short-term solution,” he said, but added that for now, the precautions might be the only option.
In accordance with the guidelines, face masks are mandatory for cast and crew except for the actors in front of the camera. The use of props on film sets is restricted while sharing wigs or makeup kits by actors is forbidden.
Producer-actress Pooja Bhatt expressed doubts over the workability of the new rules.
“We recently followed these guidelines, and more precautions, for our last day of the shooting of ‘Sadak 2’. But then we had minimal crew. I am not sure all filmmakers and productions in Bollywood have the discipline to work in that fashion,” she said.
Bhatt explained the problem lies in film crews being too large for their purpose, with each star traveling to shooting locations with a number of “hangers-on” and several people doing the job of one person on the set. “The entourage mindset is the first thing that has to go,” she said. “There is no safety right now.”
Writer-director Manish Gupta, famous for “Rahasya,” and “Stoneman Murders,” had similar doubts about the feasibility of the guidelines.
“These are very well thought-out and comprehensive guidelines. The real challenge will be the implementation,” he said. “Whether a unit of 150 or more people will actually follow each guideline so strictly? Or will complacency creep in?”
Others, however, are more optimistic as they can finally return to work.