Will Tollywood resume shootings completely in September?

Hyderabad: Owing to the prevailing impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, shootings and production activity in the Indian film industry had come to a standstill. However, once restrictions were relaxed, many filmmakers from across the country bounced back on their sets to work on their upcoming projects, especially after the state and central governments allowed for resumption of film and television shootings.

While work related to movies had resumed in June itself, other big projects of both Bollywood and Tollywood are yet to restart their shooting schedules, which were stalled due to the nationwide lockdown that was imposed by the central government to curb the spread of coronavirus. However, Kannada movie stars have begun work, in spite of rising COVID-19 cases in Karnataka. 

Coming to the Telugu film industry, some small-time actors and medium-range stars have however taken a risk to get back to shoots last month.

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Speaking to siasat.com regarding the resumption status, Sri Ram Borugula, a Tollywood writer, said, “While many Bollywood films have already gone on floors, major Tollywood shootings may start in September as theatres are also likely to open in the next unlock phase”. He pointed out that many Telugu movie makers have already commenced shooting at Ramoji film city by following all the required COVID-19 precautionary measures from June itself.

The Union Ministry of Information and Broadcast had also released a SOP (Standard Operation Procedure) for the production houses across the country to resume films and TV shootings. Since then, many producers have been wanting to find out about the reopening of theatres across the country. According to sources, theatres could re-open from October or November if the coronavirus cases subside.

In an interview with leading daily, Tollywood filmmaker SS Rajamouli expressed his point of view on the re-opening of theatres recently. “I am sure that people will make their way to the theatres. There will be a huge flow of audiences to the screens. There has been a long gap and watching movies is the only entertainment a middle-class man can afford to and they have been missing it a lot,” he said.

He added that the government is afraid to open theatres, “as they are afraid that there will be a spike in the number of COVID cases”. Rajamouli also predicted the first film that will release in theatres is going to have a lot of “craze”.

Anusha Rao, another Tollywood writer, also said that though shootings and major works of films have been stalled, people in the film industry are more into writing now. “We can write from anywhere right? So, writing and pitching stories to producers is the most productive thing, that is strongly happening right now,” she added.  

According to Anusha, who has written the Tollywood’s upcoming feature movie ‘Stand Up Rahul’, most of the shootings will mostly start in between October and December. “It is not sure yet regarding the restart of Big Tollywood projects like ‘RRR’ and others, but some are saying October and while others are telling December,” she opined.

Speaking about the difficulty that people on film sets are facing while shooting she said, “Before we begin shooting, the production house issues us a set of rules and guidelines of COVID-19 like sanitization for every few hours, wearings PPEs, strict social distancing among others. These have to be followed strictly and it gets very difficult to work with such a set of rules. Social distancing is the toughest thing while shooting”.

The writer, who is currently working on another TV series, pointed out that one of the main reason being big projects not resuming work is also due to the lack of manpower. “It’s obvious that big films require big sets. Currently, workers for the construction of such sets are not in Telangana. Most of them are from the northern parts of India and have moved to their native places during the lockdown. So, it’s not sure when those people will be back to Telangana,” she further added.

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