TV show makers in jitters over rising COVID cases on sets

The producers of several shows said that they are strictly following SOPs and taking all necessary precautions on the sets to provide undisrupted entertainment to their audience

e4m by Sonam Saini
Updated: Apr 1, 2021 1:04 PM

The surge in COVID cases in the country, especially in Maharashtra, has become the cause of concern for the television production houses. In the past few weeks, they had to halt shoots for a day or two as some crew members tested positive on the sets despite following the strict Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) from July 2020 onwards. Cases of COVID are still on the rise. Recently, 18 crew members of a popular dance reality shows- Dance Deewane 3 which airs on Colors TV tested positive for COVID-19. 

In an official statement, Colors spokesperson said, “Some crew members associated with our show Dance Deewane have tested positive for COVID-19. They have been immediately provided with medical assistance and are currently placed under quarantine. All the necessary safety procedures have been taken and the sets and adjoining areas have been thoroughly sanitized. We are constantly vigilant about the safety and health of our crew members and we will continue to take all precautions as per the stipulated guidelines.”

Similarly, on March 18, the cast and crew members of the show, 'Mehndi Hai Rachne Waali' that airs on Star Plus, were tested positive and the producers had to stop the shooting for a few days. An official statement released by Sandip Sikcand, producer of the show stated: “Few artists and crew members who are a part of the TV show Mehndi Hai Rachne Waali have tested positive for COVID-19 and are asymptomatic. All of them have received medical help/attention and are under quarantine. The Kolhapur Municipal Corporation (KMC) is informed and the sets have been fumigated and sterilized as per the protocol. We are constantly in touch with the entire team as their health is our priority. We stand by our commitment to safety and will continue to ensure that all measures prescribed by the authorities are being adhered to.”

Also, the cast and crew of shows like Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashma and Ghum Hai Kisi Ke Pyar Mein were tested positive. However, after completing their 14-day quarantine period, they are back on the sets. 

In wake of increasing cases of COVID-19, the Maharashtra government has made clear that there won’t be a complete lockdown. However, some restrictions will be imposed to break the chain. Though the government has already imposed a night curfew in several cities of state Maharashtra. 

The surge in positive cases on the sets has been giving sleepless nights to makers of the show. Nevertheless, the production houses are well prepared to face any challenges. For instance, they tighten the safety protocols, testing each and every cast and crew member on the set, frequently, and keeping the backup team in place. 

Ranjeet Thakur, Co-founder of Frames Production- producer of the on-air shows Super Dancer - Chapter 4, shared, “We are taking more precautions like we used when IBD (India’s Best Dancer) was on-air. All the shift timings will change from 7 in the morning till 7 pm. We are maintaining social distancing on the sets. No family members will be allowed except the one who is already here. We are creating a bio bubble for all the kids and choreographers on the show.”

Thakur also informed that they always maintained SOPs on the sets and they will take all the necessary precautions. “It's a matter of concern for everyone in the industry. Though we are making sure that we don’t face any such challenges. But even if any crew-member or artist gets COVID, we are here to support and will provide the best medical support to them.” 

Beyond Dreams Entertainment founder Yash Patnaik said, "The only way to stay safe is to follow the SOPs strictly. We are following the protocol religiously and not letting anything slip. Shift times have changed from 9-9 to 7-7. Accommodation for crew members who are staying far has been organised at the set. We have stopped going out of the set for any sequences. As we have a large set and ample exterior space at our disposal, small setups have been created to avoid out of set locations. All cast and crew have been asked to keep the home-to-set-to-home regime very strictly. Regular sanitisation, fumigation, temperature and oximeter check are followed rigorously. As vaccination for 45+ has started from today, all cast and crew members who are 45+ have been asked to take the jab immediately."

Binaifer Kohli of Edit II Productions, producer of the popular show ‘Bhabhiji Ghar Pe Hai’ on &TV and Sab TV’s ‘Jijai Chhat Par Hai’ shared: "The challenge right now is to create a bank of episodes. Most of the senior actors had symptoms even after taking the COVID vaccine. We have to go slow with the shoots and sometimes have to cancel the shoots the next day. There has been a huge impact on shooting because of the curfew timings. We have been following all the norms carefully and we will continue to follow them strictly."

“The good news is that the Maharashtra government has made clear that there won’t be a complete lockdown. We are following strict guidelines on the sets. There were delays on shooting when some artist or a crew member tested positive but we are keeping shows on the track and as per schedule,” said another producer who wished to be anonymous. 

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