The Kerala government permitted the shooting of films and TV shows from June 1, after almost three months of no activity in the state’s entertainment industries.
As early as March 10, Mollywood stopped the shooting of films to contain the spread of the coronavirus in Kerala. The industry has, to date, collectively incurred a loss of Rs 700 crore due to the stalled business during the lockdown.
However, for the last one week, Malayalam cinema has been technically open for business - with the state allowing indoor shooting of both TV shows (limited to 25 members) and films (limited to 50 persons) with physical distancing, as per the Central government's guidelines. But, movie shootings in the state have not resumed.
“The conditions put forth to shoot a movie now restrict us. The government has only allowed indoor shoots so far. No shoot is permitted outdoors. How can we shoot a commercial film fully indoors? In case a movie has an outdoor sequence, we cannot shoot as it is banned. This could result in budgeting mismanagement. Hence we are waiting,” B Unnikrishnan, Malayalam film producer and General Secretary of FEFKA (Film Employees Federation of Kerala) - a union of technicians working in the industry - told TNM.
Further, with the total film unit, cast and crew included, capped at a maximum of 50 persons, only compact and small budget films can be made, he added.
Film bodies expect to resume shooting in the state only by late July or even August of this year. This means additional losses running to hundreds of crores that the industry will incur.
“It depends on the virus situation and when lockdowns will ease further for us to be able to operate with flexibility, and when outdoor shoots are permitted. Now the government has banned it because it is difficult to control the people and the environment. Indoor shoots, on the other hand, offer a controlled atmosphere,” he added.
Kerala also receives South West monsoon showers through June and July, which could further push the shooting activity in the state, he pointed out.
In the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu, the state government allowed small screen serials to resume shooting from May 31. While the Edappadi K Palaniswami government allowed 20-member crews to shoot indoors in urban areas other than containment zones in a May 21 order, it has further relaxed its rules for TV shooting, allowing 60 people to work at a shooting spot. The Telangana government on Monday has permitted shooting for films and TV serials to resume in the state.