Maharashtra govt directs film, TV serial, ad shoots to be immediately halted amid surge in COVID-19 cases
Film bodies like FWICE and IFTPC are considering approaching the Maharashtra Chief Minister, urging him to reconsider his decision as the industry would incur huge losses due to such a restriction
Maharashtra government on Tuesday announced that films, TV serials and advertisement shoots will be halted in the state from Wednesday evening as part of the fresh guidelines to curb coronavirus cases.
Under the ''Break The Chain'' order announced by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, the guidelines will be implemented throughout the state from 8 PM on Wednesday to 7 AM on 1 May.
The current order has put a stop to shootings that were underway with precautions like mandatory frequent testing and avoiding scenes with large crowds.
BN Tiwari, President of the Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) said the state government's decision has come as a "huge shock".
"We should have been allowed to work. Films and TV shoots were underway with complete precautions, adhering to all government guidelines. But the complete halt of shootings is a setback. We plan to write a letter to the CM, requesting him to allow us to shoot.
"We would take utmost precaution, figure out new, stricter guidelines but if the work is stopped, it'll be a huge loss for us," Tiwari told PTI.
According to Tiwari, shooting of several big-ticket films, including megastar Amitabh Bachchan's Goodbye, Shah Rukh Khan's Pathan and Salman Khan's actioner Tiger 3 will be affected.
Actor-producer JD Majethia, Chairman TV & Web wing of Indian Films & TV Producers Council (IFTPC) said the body stands with the order but would request CM Thackeray to reconsider the decision.
Majethia said film and TV artists were no less than "frontline workers" who are currently working hard to entertain the audience in grim times.
"Right now, people are low, frustrated and at home. They would need some entertainment. We are entertaining them daily and hence are frontline workers too. We should be listed under essential service.
"If we can create a bio bubble and shoot under a controlled environment, we should be allowed to, like we were given permission last year. In a day or two, we will request the CM for this. But as of now, we stand by the state, understand and respect what they have said," Majethia added.
Last year in March, to contain the pandemic, film bodies in India including FWICE and Indian Film & Television Directors'' Association (IFTDA) had decided to put the shootings of films, TV shows and web series on hold.
In May 2020, the Maharashtra government allowed the shooting of films, TV serials and web series with safety measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Earlier this month, several productions like "Ram Setu", Sanjay Leela Bhansali''s "Gangubai Kathiawadi" and Dharma Productions-backed "Mr Lele" had to be halted after actors, including Akshay Kumar, Alia Bhatt, Vicky Kaushal and Bhumi Pednekar, tested positive for coronavirus.
Apart from the actors, as many as 45 members of Kumar''s "Ram Setu", had also tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
The latest order reiterated the closure of cinema halls and multiplexes throughout the state.
Maharashtra on Tuesday reported 60,212 fresh coronavirus positive cases, taking the tally to 35,19,208 while 281 fatalities pushed the toll to 58,526, the state health department said.
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