Chemistry over COVID? Reality show hosts and producers explain safeguards on sets

Updated: 03 August, 2020 08:19 IST | Mohar Basu, Uma Ramasubramanian | Mumbai

As physical distancing norms are flouted in front of camera on reality shows, mid-day speaks to hosts on how safety measures are rendered pointless by on-stage antics

Sonu Sood with host Kapil Sharma on the latter's show
Sonu Sood with host Kapil Sharma on the latter's show

From dance hunts to comedy sketches, reality shows have begun airing on television again. But where the artistes maintain social distancing and follow safety measures on the set, it is a different story on camera as the shows' writing demands physical proximity between actors. Do artistes feel safe shooting with no masks and zero distancing on stage at a time when the city is recording 1,000 cases in a day?

In a recent episode of The Kapil Sharma Show, the host was seen backslapping actor-guest Sonu Sood, with the latter even dancing with comedian Krushna Abhishek in a segment. While Sharma and Sood remained unavailable for comment, Archana Puran Singh, who is part of the show, says that she battled her share of apprehension when she resumed work. "Even though the producers are following the SOPs [standard operating procedures], I have created a [glass] barrier between the stage and me. That way, if a guest gets carried away, there's little scope for him/her to reach me. Fortunately, I sit at a distance [from the stage]. So, I am isolated from the cast and crew," says Singh.

A couple performs their act on India's Best Dancer
A couple performs their act on India's Best Dancer

Even as she is aware that physical distancing is the need of the hour, Geeta Kapur — one of the judges on India's Best Dancer — notes that it has little place in dance, an art form that demands intimacy and chemistry. However, she emphasises that in the post-COVID world, the producers have minimised the interaction between contestants and judges. "The contestants don't sit with each other on set. They wear masks and gloves during rehearsals, and don't meet their gurus except on stage.

Even when we step out for chai, there are designated spots to ensure that we stand six feet apart. We have doctors on standby, on set and during rehearsals," says Kapur. In adherence with the regulations, the sets are sanitised and temperatures of every member on set monitored. "Everyone — from contestants to judges to guests — undergoes antigen test, pre- and post-shoot. There are counsellors to help people power through their mental fears."

Geeta Kapur
Geeta Kapur

But aren't these steps rendered pointless when the cameras roll and the judges join the contestants to dance together — as they did in a recent episode? Admitting that she is "constantly worried" about contracting the virus, Kapur says, "Till a vaccine comes, this is our new work life. I have an ailing mother at home. So, when I return from the shoot, I sanitise everything — from my tiffin box to my make-up. I stay away from everyone at home."

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First Published: 03 August, 2020 07:02 IST

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