Filmmakers, television broadcasters and producers are bracing themselves for tough times with Maharashtra imposing Section 144 for 15 days in light of the rising number of covid cases and prohibiting shoots for movies, web shows and serials.
The content crunch will begin to show soon enough, according to media experts, especially for daily soaps. Shooting timelines for Hindi and Marathi language content have already been disrupted over the past few weeks when night curfews and lockdowns over weekends were in place.
The move has brought the Indian entertainment industry, which has already borne massive losses for the past one year, to a grinding halt. The television industry had declined by 13% over 2020, while filmed entertainment fell by 62%, according to a recent Ficci EY report.
“Not shooting for the next 15 days is going to have a huge impact as most TV producers only have a bank of four to five episodes. It was already challenging for us to not be able to shoot over weekends and there is a lot of fear on whether and how we will be able to overcome these business losses,” said producer J.D. Majethia of Hats Off Productions and chairman of the Indian Film and TV Producers Council, referring to monthly salaries and studio rents, which are fixed expenses.
“The weekly non-fiction shows that survive on audience voting will barely have an episode or two ready. There is no option for them,” he said.
Repeat airings of older content will begin soon and general entertainment channels will lose viewership to the ongoing Indian Premier League season, he said.
Just like last year, daily wage workers employed on TV sets, many of whom are migrants, have begun to go back to their native places, not knowing how long the lockdown will last this time, he added.
The scene is just as dismal for film producers who had been struggling with shortened schedules, cost escalations due to safety protocols and actors testing positive. Live Mint