May 10, 2021

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TV broadcasters are scrambling to find filming locations amid the mounting Covid cases


TV broadcasters are extremely anxious as they try to discover alternative locations to continue filming their TV shows even as various states and local bodies continue to impose strict restrictions due to the growing number of Covid-19 cases in the country.

Broadcasters do not want to repeat what happened last year, when the sudden nationwide shutdown caused by the pandemic revealed that they were unprepared in terms of the content pipeline.

This time, the broadcasters said they are ready. Once the shooting was allowed late last year, most of them started setting up banks.

And while the Maharashtra state government banned firing in the state until April 30, many were also prepared with a contingency plan – moving entire production units to places like Hyderabad, Goa, Chennai, Noida and Gujarat.

“A lot of the images have basically moved to Goa and Hyderabad,” said Maotec Tullia, managing director of content production company Body Tree Multimedia. At the moment, he said, all parties – broadcasters, video platforms and content producers – are working in a spirit of cooperation and understanding. “Basically everyone works to make sure the fans are entertained.”

A senior executive of one of the largest broadcasting networks said that most Indian and Marathi channels have episodes of about two weeks in duration in their bank. “As of today, most channels will show new episodes until May 15 plus / minus two days. However, the cost is escalating. If this continues or other countries impose restrictions, it will be a big problem.

While the lockdown was expected to be extended in Maharashtra, the sudden five-day lockdown in Goa announced earlier this week and the restrictions in Karnataka (until May 14) have surprised the TV industry. Many broadcasters fear other countries will follow suit.

“It is not clear to us yet whether or not shooting will be allowed in Goa and Karnataka, unlike in Maharashtra, circulars do not specifically restrict buds. However, cases in both places are increasing very quickly and many of our stars and crew members are also affected,” A senior executive at another broadcast network said.

Some pictures have moved to Umbergaon in Gujarat, 150 kilometers from Mumbai, which has seen a lot of TV producers shoot recently.

“I’m currently shooting in our studio, Swastik Bhoomi in Umbergaon. Many other shoots have moved here now because it’s a green area and we’re taking full safety measures here,” said Siddharth Kumar Tiwari, founder and director of Swastik Productions.

Some broadcasters are also concerned about the shootings in West Bengal, where cases have increased rapidly since state elections.