Television shoots finally roll with spot boys in PPE suits and actors in slippers provided on set
As the TV industry returns to work after three months, mid-day brings dope from sets of Bhakarwadi, Santoshi Maa Sunaye Vrat Kathayein, RadhaKrishn about shooting in the post-COVID world.
On Thursday, actor-producer JD Majethia drove down to the all-familiar set of Bhakarwadi in Mira Road after 100 days. The joy of returning to work was tinged with an unusual sense of caution. Majethia — who, as the chairman of the TV & web wing of the Indian Film & Television Producers' Council (IFTPC), played an active role in enabling television producers to resume shooting — arrived on the set, with Deven Bhojani, an hour before the cast and crew to ensure the shoot kicked off on the right foot.
Day One began with the producer reiterating the guidelines to the team. Majethia had called only 30 per cent of the original crew, comprising actors Bhojani, Akshay Kelkar, Akshita Mudgal and Paresh Ganatra, and a handful of technicians. As a safety measure, the studio had lockers installed at the entrance. "Before they enter the set, they have to remove their footwear and wear the pair of slippers provided by us. We have provided umbrellas that everybody walks around with, thereby ensuring that social distancing is followed. We have marked everyone's position, and the actors and technicians have to sit in the designated areas. As per the guidelines, we also have a nurse on the set who checked everyone's temperature before letting them in," explains Majethia. While the actors had to mandatorily wear masks and gloves when not filming a scene, the technicians sported them all day long. The handful of spot boys present on the set wore PPE kits provided by the production house.
A quick look at the set revealed posters reminding one of the threat of the virus that looms large. "We have introduced a concept called share a sanitiser. Earlier, people would share gutkha, and smoke on sets. Now, we have banned them; they are only allowed to share sanitisers," adds Majethia. At lunch, the unit was served packed food and were required to eat at their designated positions, thus avoiding crowding.
Vehicles are fumigated before being allowed on the set
Bhojani reported to the set with complete makeup and in costume. "All our make-up rooms were sanitised before we came in the morning. A make-up kit was delivered to me two days ago, which I promptly sanitised. I have learnt to do make-up during the lockdown. So, we came to the set ready for the camera," he narrates.
Even as they clocked nine hours of work, from 9 am to 6 pm, productivity on the first day was below par. "We did rehearsal, and then shot. The work is definitely slow, as everyone is careful," says Majethia.
Motley crew shoots for mythological
Miles away, in Umedgaon, actors Sumedh Mudgalkar and Basant Bhatt reprised their roles of Krishn and Balram in Siddharth Kumar Tewary's RadhaKrishn. A source reveals that a 20-member cast and crew was taken to Umedgaon a week ago, following which they practised the mandatory self-quarantine.
still from Bhakarwadi
Two sanitisation tunnels have also been built on the set as a precautionary measure.
Actor Kinshuk Vaidya, who plays Arjun in the mythological show, says, "The producers have looked after every aspect — from calling us a week in advance and keeping us in isolation to having a sanitisation regimen frequently during the day. The moment we are done filming a shot, we are required to sanitise ourselves and wear our masks."
Colors TV's offering Choti Sarrdaarni is expected to roll today while Star TV will take their daily soaps on floors by June 28. Among the shoots that started yesterday also included the Gracy Singh-fronted Santoshi Maa Sunaye Vrat Kathayein. A technician from the crew, on condition of anonymity, reveals that the makers have let go of a chunk of the crew to avoid crowding on sets.
"On the basis of the guidelines, they've decided that some of us are not needed anymore at work. But as daily-wage workers, we are all in a trying situation," he lamented.
Not just television
In Versova, actor Adah Sharma ventured out for the shoot of a commercial for a popular coffee brand, accompanied by her make-up artiste and hairstylist. She stuck to the basics, and says they were vigilant to not flout any rules. "My hair and make-up team were given instructions to not touch anything on set. I was conscious to not touch surfaces, and kept washing my hands at frequent intervals. After every scene, I would get back in the vanity van and wash my hands, as did my hair and make-up team."
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