CCMEI writes letter to Maharashtra CM to restart the film and TV industry; Shabana Azmi rebukes central government for not helping cine workers amid pandemic
The coordination committee of the media and entertainment industry has written a letter to Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray to restart the film and TV industry, since the COVID-19 cases has subsided in the state. The letter laid down some protocols that the industry is willing to adhere to as the shooting resumes. JD Majethia, convener CCMEI signed the letter on behalf of all the Craft Unions, Broadcasters and Producer Bodies. The letter reads, “It is heartening to note that the Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra especially in Mumbai is decreasing substantially thanks to your relentless fight against the disease. We compliment you for your timely guidelines and pro-active steps which has saved our state from a possible catastrophe. At this favorable juncture, we draw your attention to the mail dated 16th April, 2021, 21st April 2021 and 28th April, 2021 fervently requesting you to restart the film and tv industry. Now that your strenuous efforts are yielding results and cases in Maharashtra are seeing a downward trend, we once again renew our request. Our Media & Entertainment industry had wholeheartedly supported your fight against Covid and suffered hugely. In the light of the positive development on Covid front, we once again reiterate our request that the Media & Entertainment industry may be restarted subject to the following voluntary conditions.
a.The industry may restart after 1st June, 2021 when it is presumed the crisis will be under
c.The shooting and post-production will take place under a Bio-Bubble following a stringent SOP.
d.The shooting shall be restricted to only those locations which are fully gated and secured such as Film City, Bungalows in Madh & Malvani, secured places in Mira-Bhayander region, Naigaon and the outskirts of cities and villages under a Bio-Bubble mechanism.
e.All the crew members will be housed at the location with proper lodging & Boarding facilities. Only actors and senior technicians with their own four-wheeler shall be allowed to move out under strict scrutiny.
f.Weekly antigen tests and fortnightly RT-PCR tests will be done.
g.Many a crew member are already vaccinated but simultaneous efforts will be made to vaccinate the entire industry under your various initiative. We are also willing to bear the cost of vaccination if a separate and exclusive facility is made available to us.
h.Film City management has already initiated a plan to house a vaccination center in the Film City. The same should be please expedited.
We also wish to point out that after the shootings were allowed in June 2020, many a shoot were conducted in a bio-bubble and the results were very satisfactory with total absence of Covid cases. After the Break the Chain announcement in April 2021 many shoots were re-located to Umbergaon, Silvassa, Daman, Varanasi, Lucknow, Delhi and Hyderabad. We have the pleasure to inform you that the Covid cases are not yet reported from these locations under Bio-Bubble. The shifting of locations entailed substantial cost to us yet, we pursued the same with the sole intention of providing livelihood to more than 10000 families in these difficult times.
In the above favorable circumstances, we plead that the M& E industry may be allowed to restart under Bio-Bubble. A detailed ppt of SOP is attached herewith for your perusal. Any suggestions from Government of Maharashtra will be followed meticulously. We reiterate that we fully support you and will follow the guidelines in a true spirit and earnestly request you to kindly accept our request as above and oblige.”
Shabana Azmi has also voiced her discontent with the government for not coming to financial aid for the cine workers. She told an online portal, “As a sector, we contribute millions to the exchequer. Every time there has been a national calamity, the film industry has come forward and has helped the government in fundraising as well as contributing personal donations. But it has largely been a one-way relationship. Sadly, we do not fall under the purview of any of the ministries, be it HRD/Ministry of labour/ culture or as a matter of fact even the Information and Broadcasting."
She further said, “Unlike, in the west, we are not a recipient of any social security schemes. Last year the UK government’s The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport announced 17 million pound fund to help the cultural, arts and heritage institutions survive the pandemic last summer. In the UK, they have supported about 3,000 arts organizations in England so far, including venues such as the Royal Albert Hall and Southbank Centre in London, and M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool. We have no such response from our government. I think it’s largely due to the perception that the film industry is flushed with money and doesn’t need help. We are the cultural ambassadors of India - we bring repute to our country by the awards we win at international film festivals. Bollywood is a household name all over the world. The covid pandemic has rendered the daily wage earners and technicians penniless. A lot of senior artists are without work and have nowhere to turn to. Many of us have contributed to our respective Associations but a calamity of this scale needs help from the Government."