Shooting of Bengali serials will commence from June 10 after over two-and-a-half months of shutdown in the aftermath of Covid-19. This was decided by all stakeholders of Bengal’s television industry at a meeting with minister Aroop Biswas at Technicians’ Studio on Thursday. While no child actor below the age of 10 will be allowed to shoot, those above 65 can join work provided they agree to give an undertaking to express their willingness. In case of any infection on the sets, the state government will take the onus of treatment of the infected. If all goes well, viewers should be able to watch the serials by June 15.
Hailing the decision regarding Covid-19 relief and compensation as “historic”, Federation of Cine Technicians and Workers of Eastern India (FCTWEI) president Swarup Biswas said, “For the first time in the history of Indian cinema, a guideline has been drawn to provide Covid-10 life insurance plan of Rs 25 lakh for each person present on the floors. In case of technicians, the broadcaster and producers will equally share the premium cost,” Biswas said. In case of artistes, the broadcaster will pay 50% and the producers will pay 40%. “The remaining 10% will be paid by the artists’ forum on behalf of the artists,” said Arindam Ganguly, the general secretary of West Bengal Motion Picture Artists’ Forum (WBMPAF). Besides, FCTWEI will provide a set of three masks, one face shield and a 500 ml bottle of sanitizer to each technician present on the sets.
On Sunday, another round of meeting is expected to discuss issues related to film shooting. “We are expecting to streamline everything and also start film shooting by June 10,” Biswas said. “On Sunday, we will discuss how the premium will be paid for film artistes since we will not have any broadcasters in case of films,” said Ganguly.
Sani Ghosh Ray, the secretary of Welfare Association of Television Producers (WATP), said these new guidelines will result in a creative impact on the industry. That is above the financial impact. “It will make creative people change and relook at the way they are doing things,” Ghosh Ray said. Incidentally, the ban on kissing and hugging might not have a huge impact on Bengali serials that largely rely on mythology or dialogue-driven scenes that are shot with closeups. Most highly-rated serials have verbose scenes with no physical intimacy. “When we have a young love story, we need to show intimacy. Earlier, the characters would hug. But, now we will have to relook at how to do that without any physical proximity. That will mean writing dialogues differently and using a lot of songs and relooking at the editing patterns,” he added.
Not too many serials will be affected by the guideline barring child actors below 10 years since 80% of Bengali serials don’t have them as protagonists. “Schools are closed. How can we allow them to come for shooting? For senior actors, agreeing to shoot completely depends on their discretion,” said Ganguly. But what happens to the fate of serials that have child protagonists? Will they have to be kept on hold? Ghosh Ray, who produces a serial called “Phirki” that has little Mahi Singh in the lead, said, “No, not necessarily. We will have to rethink that.”
Saibal Banerjee, the president of WATP, said that majority of the senior artists working in his own production house have expressed a desire to work. “According to them, they are more fit than many 25-year-olds. As for having less number of artistes at a time on the sets, we in the Bengali television industry are used to that. In fact, many have had problems adjusting combination dates and timings so that a number of actors are present on the sets simultaneously. So, we will not have a problem with this guideline,” Banerjee added.
Meanwhile, actors have also been asked to carry their costumes back home and use their own makeup. “Producers will have to bear the cost of providing individual makeup kits for those who can’t afford them,” said Shankar Chakraborty, who is the working president of WBMPAF.
Technicians will be given assignments on a rotation basis. “We will ensure that no technician becomes jobless. Most technicians have their own bikes and cycles to commute. If someone stays far away, FCTWEI will arrange for their conveyance. We are against accepting payment without doing work. We are not hooligans or extortionists. Only technicians present on the floor will have to be paid,” Biswas added.
Meanwhile, the composition of the 35-member unit on the floor too has been decided. Each unit will have a director, three assistant directors, a cameraman, one assistant cameraman, one sound recordist, one assistant sound recordist, one assistant art director, two people for art setting, three light caretakers, two camera caretakers, one person for catwalk, one person for trolley setting, one electrician, one makeup artist, one assistant makeup artist, one hair dresser, two dressers, one assistant manager, two production boys and one tea boy. A maximum of five artistes will be allowed.
Source: Times of India