With around 9,500 cinema halls shut across the country and many big releases put on hold, the Indian film industry has suffered a loss of at least Rs 1,500 crore in the last two-and-a-half months with no signs of relief in sight. The Covid-19 pandemic has given a big jolt to the film industry and no shootings are taking place in Mumbai’s Film City and various other studios in the area. Many filmmakers and theatre owners are now requesting the government to waive off one year’s entertainment tax and have also demanded a relief package for the entertainment industry.
The Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association (IMPPA) has written a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and asked him to change the government’s guidelines to start shooting. The association told the government that it would be impossible for them to depute doctors, nurses and ambulances during shooting. The government has asked them to not allow citizens above 65 years of age at work but according to them, many stars are above the age limit and it is not possible to work without them. In addition, the All India Theatres Association has demanded a package to compensate the loss.
Mumbai’s G7 theatre owner Manoj Desai says, “For the last three months, theatres are closed. We want the government to waive off the entertainment tax for one year. We are in a deep crisis and don’t know when the government will reopen theatres. So, we want it to announce a big relief package for our industry.”
As the lockdown continues, many junior artists and crew members are worried because they don’t have money to pay their rents. Many filmmakers, however, are trying to find different ways to avoid losses during this time. Many including Farhan Akhtar and Sanjay Leela Bhansali have decided to dismantle their huge film sets of Dongri to Dubai and Gangubai Kathiawadi respectively, to avoid further losses. Many bigwigs like Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushman Khurrana have decided to release their film Gulabo Sitabo on Over the Top (OTT) platforms.
The release of Salman Khan-starrer Raadhe and Ranveer Singh’s much awaited film 83 has now been postponed. Director Rohit Shetty’s multi-starrer Sooryavanshi with Akshay Kumar in the main lead will now be released after October. Akshay Kumar’s film Laxmi Bomb will also release on OTT anytime soon. Varun Dhawan and Sara Ali Khan’s Coolie No. 1 has also been affected due to the pandemic.
The TV industry has also incurred big losses. Single episode of a primetime show costs around Rs 30-50 lakh. Many channels have reduced the cost of production and have asked to waive off studio rents. Three shows of Ekta Kapoor’s Balaji tele-films have gone off air due to this.