Malayalam film industry welcomes move for resuming production

The release of nearly 60 movies was pending after the industry came to a screeching halt following the nationwide lockdown imposed on March 25.

Malayalam film industry welcomed the Centre’s decision to resume film and television production work across the country amidst concerns about the extent of outdoor shooting possible amidst the worsening COVID-19 crisis.

The Kerala Film Producers’ Association (KFPA) said that the move would gradually pave way for the resumption of normalcy in the industry, which has been hit badly owing to the crisis induced by the pandemic. The release of nearly 60 movies was pending after the industry came to a screeching halt following the nationwide lockdown imposed on March 25.

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“The State government had already permitted indoor shooting with a maximum crew of 50. With the Union government allowing outdoor shooting, the shooting of films could resume by adhering to the standard operating procedure prepared by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting,” said KFPA president M. Renjith.

However, Mr. Renjith pointed out that outdoor shooting of films that require several persons may be difficult to resume considering reports that the number of positive cases may go up by September. “We need at least 60 to 70 persons on the location to manage the process of shooting a movie. If a person among this gets infected, it may force many others to go on quarantine, resulting in the disruption of the schedule,” he said. B. Rakesh, treasurer of KFPA, said that films made in medium budget would be able to resume work going by the current pandemic scenario.

Jayaraj, filmmaker and chairman of the Malayalam Cine Technicians’ Association (MACTA), said that the decision to open up media production would help hundreds of workers in the industry, who were reeling under severe financial crisis. “We had submitted a video before the Union Finance Minister earlier requesting immediate re-opening of film production. The shooting of movies can resume by implementing the standard operating procedure prescribed by the Centre,” he said.

A. K. Balan, Minister for Cinema, said that he would hold talks with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to decide on whether certain relaxations could be given for outdoor shooting. “Many films may require more than 50 persons for outdoor shooting. The demand for re-opening work in the film and television industry remains genuine in view of the crisis following the pandemic,” he said.

M. C. Bobby, general secretary of Film Exhibitors’ United Organisation of Kerala, said that they hope the Centre and State governments would permit the opening of cinemas by either October or November. “We are under the belief that the pandemic situation may ease by November. But it’s a reality that we have lost almost a major chunk of the business season after the shutdown that began in March. The organisation will soon submit a relief package before the State government to tide over the major losses incurred by theatre owners,” he said.

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