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Tamil TV Industry - Lockdown Plans, Shooting, TV Shows Ending, Postponed


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Old 05-16-2021, 05:49 AM
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Default Tamil TV Industry - Lockdown Plans, Shooting, TV Shows Ending, Postponed

As crew members test COVID-19 positive, television shoots to be halted until May 31



Even though the Tamil Nadu government had announced full lockdown in the state from May 10-24, shoots of a few serials were going on in Chennai for the past few days. Industry insiders tell us that TV crews were operating in a grey area as the GO on the full lockdown did not explicitly mention that shoots cannot take place. They had also taken advantage of the fact that the bigwigs in the industry were in talks with the government to allow shoots to continue. However, on Saturday, RK Selvamani, the president of the Film Employees Federation of South India (FEFSI), announced that members of the film body, which comprises around 25,000 film works, will not be taking part in any film or TV- related work until May 31.

The move by FEFSI seems to have been brought out by the fact that several film workers were testing positive for COVID-19 and were also infecting their family members. Allegedly, the crew of Anbe Vaa, a popular TV serial, had 26 members testing positive in the last few days! At a press meet on Saturday, Selvamani said, “When we had met the Chief Minister last week, we had given three requests. To allow film shoots, to provide monetary assistance and to organise a vaccination camp for the members of the film industry.”

We have now learnt that in a TV crew that had 35 members, 26 have tested positive. It is quite a dangerous situation. Many of our workers are going to work saying that they’d rather die of corona than see their kids starve. One worker had passed on the virus to his entire family. We managed to get them hospitalised, but the worker and his parents are now dead. His wife has returned home, but we have lied to her that the rest of her family are in isolation as she is still on the way to recovery.”

He added, “We have seen many workers and their families getting affected by corona and even experiencing loss of lives. Most of our members live in one-room houses, so those who are infected cannot go back home from the set. They can’t get admitted in hospitals because they are already full. They are stranded with nowhere to go. The producers say that these people have worked in a few other serials as well and aren’t ready to take responsibility. So, we are withdrawing one of the requests that we had placed before the CM — to allow shoots. In the current scenario, we have decided to not take part in any film work — be it production or post-production, film or TV — until May 31.”

Sujatha Vijayakumar, president of Society of Television Producers of Southern India (STEPS), told us that the organisation is still looking into the matter of over 25-plus crew members in a serial testing positive. “We have been shooting for TV serials and shows for about a year now during the pandemic. All the teams have been adhering to the safety protocols. We also have an inspection team that regularly visits the set to see if all SOPs are being followed,” she said.

She admitted that lack of communication from the government was the reason why TV crews continued with shoots despite the lockdown. “A couple of serials continued shooting only because we didn’t get any intimation from the government. Most of the serials shoots happen inside a house, and that, too, with a limited crew,” she added.

However, Selvamani, in his press meet, revealed that 16 serials were shot until Saturday. Meanwhile, 40 films had stopped shooting after the announcement of the lockdown!

With shoots suspended, will serials have fresh content to last till the end of the month? Sujatha informed that most of the serials have been shot in such a way that episodes will have fresh content for two weeks at least. “We had already informed show producers before things were getting out of hand. So, there is content for two weeks. After May 24, we will have to see if there are more lockdowns and how to go about shoots,” she said.

Selvamani said that FEFSI will take a call on resumption of work after looking at the situation by this month end “only after getting go-ahead from the government, and finalising the safety measures and fixing responsibility for the safety of workers”.


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