- “It has been a terrible year,” said actress Swara Bhasker.
- “The loss of employment has been devastating for many,” he added.
- Due to the pandemic, many movies released online
Dancers stopped strutting on Bollywood film sets this year as the Indian film industry struggled to find some spring in their path during a disastrous 2020.The annus horribilis for the world‘s most prolific film industry began with the heartbreaking deaths in April in the 36 hours of the lights. Irrfan Khan and Rishi Kapoor. Others who passed away included composer Wajid Khan, who died of coronavirus at age 42, director Basu Chatterjee, Bollywood’s first choreographer Saroj Khan, and S P Balasubrahmanyam, singer of some 40,000 movie songs. But it was the suicide in June of the 34-year-old star. Sushant Singh Rajput which had the broadest repercussions.
Tabloid Indian television news channels, eager to portray the film industry as a den of iniquity, accused Rajput’s ex-girlfriend, actress Rhea Chakraborty, of leading him to his death with black magic and cannabis.
The 28-year-old, who denies any crime, spent months in custody for allegedly buying drugs for Rajputs, while stars like Deepika padukone they were brought in for questioning as the investigation escalated. “It has been a terrible year,” actress Swara Bhasker told AFP, adding: “The smear campaign by some sections of the media against the film industry has been horrendous.”
– Reel problems –
Meanwhile, virus restrictions forced producers to pause filming, putting thousands of livelihoods at risk in Bollywood, in the Hindi language, as well as other regional Indian film industries.
From “local guys” running errands on set to “young artists” who earn their living as extras, the industry relies on a huge army of low-paid workers.
“The loss of employment and income has been devastating for many,” Bhasker said.
Productions have tentatively resumed, but pandemic restrictions prohibit them from filming the elaborate musical sequences that are a hallmark of Hindi films.
This point was revealed in a social media post in August by superstar Amitabh Bachchan, who this year spent weeks in the hospital with the coronavirus, describing a film set as “a sea of blue PPE” or personal protective equipment.
– ‘At the crossroads’ –
Theaters were closed for months, and while they reopened in October, virus-wary viewers are staying away, with some theaters wondering if the crowd will ever return.
A trip to the cinema has traditionally been very popular in India, from $ 1 tickets at single-screen cinemas to air-conditioned multiplexes offering biryani and hot chocolate sundaes.
New releases have stalled, with many producers preferring to screen their movies directly on streaming platforms that exploded when the pandemic forced millions to block.
But Abhishek, Amitabh Bachchan’s son actor, whose crime mischief Ludo went straight to Netflix last month, telling AFP the big-screen experience “cannot be duplicated.”
“We love our outings to the theater; we love watching our movies on the screen while we eat a good pot of popcorn, our samosas and cold drinks and go with our friends and family,” he said.
“I absolutely see that theaters are coming back and I really hope they are.”
But he acknowledged that the immediate prospect seemed confusing.
“I think we are at a crossroads right now … What will that new normal be?”
– ‘Big Bang’ –
Although Hollywood has raised the idea of showing films simultaneously in theaters and digital platforms, with Warner Bros planning to do so with all of its 2021 releases, its Indian counterparts have no such plans.
Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, who stars AK vs. AK, a Netflix black comedy this week, told AFP: “There are certain movies that should be seen projected on the big screen.”
“Filmmakers create content based on where their work will be seen … You have to know what screen size your film will be viewed on, and studios and distributors must deliver on that promise,” he said.
Casualties are already mounting.
A number of beloved single-screen theaters have drawn their blinds and many others are contemplating closure, film trade analyst Komal Nahta told AFP.
“It’s going to be catastrophic,” he said.
And although filming has resumed, every week they shed new cases of stars who test positive for coronavirus, forcing productions to close.
But as vaccination efforts accelerate and with long-awaited movies like ‘83 and Sooryavanshi Set for a theatrical release next year, watchers are betting on a boisterous comeback in the style of Bollywood.
“I don’t know how long it will take. But he will strike back with a big, big bang,” Nahta said.
Hari Prasad Jayanna, a film director from Bangalore, agreed: “The film industry will be forever.”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by GossipMantri staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)