Interview Hindi

Doing away with displays of intimacy could be a reality, says Siddharth Anand Kumar of Yoodlee Films


The indie production house is formulating a plan for shooting schedules once the lockdown is lifted.

Keyur Seta

People from the film fraternity and the audience are wondering how films would be shot in the post-COVID-19 world since the art requires a large number of people to work in close proximity.

While guidelines from the health authorities and film bodies are yet to arrive, Saregama India Ltd’s independent movie banner Yoodlee Films is coming up with a long-term strategy to keep the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus at bay once shooting of films and web-series resumes.

The studio has produced films like Ajji (2017), Brij Mohan Amar Rahe! (2018), Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz (2018), Ascharyachakit (2018), Music Teacher (2019) and Noblemen (2019).

Siddharth Anand Kumar, vice-president, films and events, at Saregama, said in an official statement, “To begin with, we are planning to distribute water bottles with people’s names on them so they are not shared. We will also keep sanitizers at various nooks and corners which will ensure that all can clean their hands regularly. Additionally, we will distribute masks. I am sure people will come to the sets with their masks on, but we will also hand them over as a precautionary measure.”

Showing physical closeness or intimacy is a must in almost every film. Speaking about this aspect, Siddharth Anand Kumar said, "Doing away with intimate displays of romance could be a reality for filmmakers, at least for the immediate future."

We contacted the Saregama vice-president to know more about Yoodlee's shooting strategy after the lockdown ends. Excerpts from an e-mail interview:

The Producers’ Guild of India has already clarified that there will be no shooting without clearance from government authorities. How does Yoodlee see this?

Yoodlee Films understands that these are times when we need to follow the guidelines put forth by the government. There is no question of shooting starting without clearance from the government. There are many aspects of this pandemic that only the government is privy to. We have to believe in its foresight and advice at this point. We see this as the most pragmatic approach at this juncture.

Even if physical distancing norms are followed on sets, how will the artistes function? For one, you cannot shoot with masks on. Second, artistes cannot be at six-feet distance from one another all the time.

All the artistes who finally shoot will undergo testing. An aspect of the virus that has come forth is that a large number of people can be asymptomatic, which means they do not show any symptoms. Testing will help us know that no one on set is a carrier of the virus and would help us then shoot with relative ease. But like I said, all this depends on what final guidelines come from the authorities, which Yoodlee will adhere to.

How will emotional moments be handled? Any thoughts on that?

Doing away with intimate displays of romance could be a reality for filmmakers, at least for the immediate future. Given that an array of hygiene restrictions will have to be put into force, this, I think, would be the least of the issues. Keeping the health and safety of the actors in mind, support staff on the sets and others will be of paramount importance.

Everything depends on the story and what the need of the story is. Sooner than later, a workaround will come into place. With special effects, advanced technology and clever camerawork, I am sure intimacy on screen will not be relegated to swaying flowers and swans necking!

Will there be temperature checks for the whole unit?

Apart from following guidelines put forth by the government (whenever they come), we will have an internal set of guidelines across all our shoots. Among those, we are already making provisions for having medical assistance on the sets at all times. Temperature checks will be part of the SOP [standard operating procedure].

Any film or web-series project of yours that has got stalled because of the lockdown?

Luckily we didn’t have any projects on the floor when the lockdown was announced. We are in [the] middle of pre-production for two films — one for an OTT platform and one a regional theatrical film — which we will commence once the lockdown gets over.

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