Drama shoots have been on hold since March 22. The associations decided to resume shooting on May 17 but reversed their decision after the first day of resumption
Television drama shoots had been out on hold since March 22 due to coronavirus pandemic. In the meantime, Pahela Baishakh passed by and now, Eid-ul-Fitr is getting closer. Usually, during the Eid season, production houses remain busy shooting dramas but now, it has all come to a standstill.
According to association leaders, the industry has been facing a loss of around Tk500 crore due to the situation. However, a committee comprised of representatives from 12 organisations including Television Programme Producers' Association of Bangladesh, Director Guild, Obhinoy Shilpi Shangha, and Nattyokar Shangha, decided to resume the shooting of dramas from May 17 to compensate for the loss to some extent. Those who are interested can start shooting upon meeting the government's health directives. The associations' leaders also said that they will not be liable for any occurrences; the shooting units have to take all responsibilities if any unwanted situation arises.
On the night of May 17, however, the associations went back on their decision after criticism from various quarters. A notice issued that night however left room for some productions to continue.
Meanwhile, even before the approval, on May 10, director Adibasi Mizan took the initiative of shooting a seven-episode drama in a shooting spot in Pubail. Actor Zahid Hasan went to the spot for the shooting but the associations intervened in the matter and the shooting was packed up.
The decision to shoot was criticised by leaders and artists of the industry. The committee held a meeting to discuss Jahid's actions but were unable to decide on any action.
Meanwhile, an OVC released on social media featuring the President of Obhinoy Shilpi Shanga - Shahiduzzaman Selim and directed by Shakhawat Manik was filmed while the restriction was in effect.
Criticism was also raised over how the president of Obhinoy Shilpi Shangha could take part in the shooting in such circumstances. Many people in the industry feel the permission to allow drama shoots from May 17 was designed to protect actors Zahid and Selim from disciplinary action.
However, refuting the allegation, Salauddin Lavlu, president of Directors' Guild, said, "We came to know that shooting of few Eid dramas were incomplete. Production costs of these incomplete dramas is Tk2 crore and we will not be able to air these dramas during Eid holidays unless we can finish filming. Considering this, leaders of all the associations have taken this decision but, keeping the health risks in mind, we request everyone to not shoot the dramas amid the situation."
Meanwhile, conflicts have emerged among the association leaders regarding this decision. Iresh Zaker, president of Television Programme Producers' Association of Bangladesh, and Saju Muntasir, general secretary of the association, decided to resign from their posts claiming that they had failed to perform their duties. After they submitted their resignation letters on May 18, the leaders of the organisations sat again to discuss the issue and convinced Iresh and Saju not to resign.
When The Business Standard contacted Abdul Alim, general secretary of Uttara's Shooting House association, he said, "Though the organisations have decided to carry out shooting, we will not allow anyone in our shooting house. The whole house has become dirty as no shooting took place in the house for a long time. It needs to be disinfected, which is not possible within such a short time."
Besides, many leading actors and actresses, including Mosharraf Karim, Chanchal Chowdhury, Afran Nisho, Apurba, and Mehazabien, are against the decision of starting shooting again.
On the other hand, some started shooting in alternative ways on May 17 but it was suspended later at night. Salauddin Lavlu said, "The decision to resume shooting has been suspended for the time being. Updates will be announced through a notice very soon."
The notice was served on the night of May 17. The notice said that, at first, leaders of the associations had taken a position against shootings. Later, when the government eased the lockdown, they also thought of easing the restriction on shooting. But it was mentioned in the previous notice that the decision could be changed at any moment, stated the May 17 notice.
Now, as the coronavirus situation has become more serious, the associations have decided to step back from its decision to ease the restriction on shooting. "We will notify you about our next decision after coordinating with the government's decision later," the notice said.
The ones who had started shooting were requested to complete the work as soon as possible, the notice added.
Lavlu said, "We cannot force anybody to shoot or not shoot. We can just request them, and this is what we have done. Life is more precious than shooting. However, we will resume the shooting after coordinating with the government's decision. Now, we are trying to figure out ways on how to film maintaining the health guideline's rules."