Bollywood life in the coronavirus era | Daily News


Bollywood life in the coronavirus era


There will be no close-quarters dancing, no touching of hands and certainly no kissing: welcome to Bollywood 2020. But this is not a return by the giant Indian film industry to the prudery of decades past. Rather, it is an attempt to meet the strictures of social distancing in a country struggling to cope with coronavirus.

The authorities have given the go-ahead for cameras to roll again as India's lockdown is eased, and Bollywood executives have "no doubt" that film production will return to pre-virus levels within months.

However, producers must follow an exhaustive list of rules, including a reduction in the number of crew members, social distancing on set and remote castings. Regular temperature checks will be taken on set by an on-site healthcare professional, with an ambulance made available at all times.

But in one of the biggest – and for audiences most visible – changes, scenes involving close human contact will be cut, for the short term at least: bad news for fans of the legendary Bollywood group dance montage.

Kissing – long a controversial subject in Bollywood films – will also be banned for the foreseeable future. Some have suggested using flower imagery, in a throwback to early Bollywood films, to demonstrate when a couple become intimate.

For dance scenes, the new measures are expected to mean no big group montages because this would break social distancing rules. Instead, there is likely to be just the lead actor and actress, dancing separately and in turn without the usual 20 to 30 backing dancers. Even before the new guidance was announced, actor-producer Sanjay Suri said: "Cinematic intimacy will take time to return. I can't imagine us sweating and close dancing in a film immediately. We surely will have to reinvent a working style and be cautious." In whatever form it does return, the reopening of India’s £2.4 billion industry, which usually produces more than 1,500 Hindi-language films every year – double the output of Hollywood – will come as a welcome relief to this movie-mad nation. "Entertainment and films run through the lifeblood of our nation. The cultural connection between the industry and the psyche of our nation is extremely deep, and it has been that way for generations," explained Vikram Malhotra, the CEO of Abundantia Entertainment, a major Bollywood production house.

"Watching films and discussing film stars is our national pastime, and in India, it is fact [that] we have temples erected for more than half a dozen movie stars. These film stars see regular worship by their fans, much like they would worship goddesses, and there can be an elaborate ritual of prayers and celebrations that take place before the launching of a new show." Indeed, pre-lockdown, an incredible 15 million Indians visited the cinema daily – over one per cent of the entire population. When Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister, placed India under lockdown on March 25, production sets and cinemas shut as Indians were only permitted to leave their homes to purchase essential groceries and medicines. Telegraph

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