Members of the entertainment industry, including filmmaker Boney Kapoor, actor-producer JD Majethia, filmmaker Ashoke Pandit, on Sunday hailed the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for resuming shooting of films and TV programmes announced by the Centre. Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar announced guiding principles and SOPs on preventive measures for media production to contain the spread of coronavirus.
These include measures such as social distancing and mandatory use of face cover or masks for cast and crew, except for actors in front of the camera.
Kapoor, who had Ajay Devgn-starrer "Maidaan" in production when the COVID-19 induced nationwide lockdown was announced in March, expressed gratitude towards the government.
"Big thank you to @PMOIndia @AmitShah @MoHFW_India @PrakadhJavadekar and @MIB_India for releasing SOP for resumption of work in media production industry. We look forward to resuming work safely (sic)," he tweeted.
Sharing details of the SOPs, Javadekar said barring those who are in front of camera, all others will have to wear masks.
"We are laying down SOPs as per international experience, and with the consultation of the health ministry and the home ministry, we have issued these SOPs," he said.
"This is an important aspect of the economy and it employs millions of people, therefore, we have issued this to facilitate now the production activity to resume. I am sure everyone will welcome this and all states will implement this," said Javadekar.
The move comes three months after the Maharashtra government allowed shooting of films, TV serials and web series with conditions laid down to contain the spread of the pandemic.
Pandit, president of Indian Film and Television Directors' Association (IFTDA), said with the latest SOPs, the Centre has made it possible for the industry to consider filming across the country.
"Earlier we would hesitate thinking of going outstation to shoot because of lack of clarity. But now with these SOPs and Centre's permission, we can go anywhere in the country and shoot. It's a also morale boost to the industry which is anyway suffering a lot," Pandit told .
BN Tiwari, president of Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE), said Centre's decision is a "wholesome news" which stands to benefit those who were severely hit due to the lockdown.
"Lakhs of workers, junior artistes, dancers, will benefit from this as it is an SOP which has directly come from the Centre. With this, the most needy will finally start getting work and the working procedure will be streamlined," Tiwari told .
The I&B ministry's SOPs state that physical distancing of at least six feet is to be followed as far as feasible at all locations at all times, while sitting, standing in queues, among others.
These include places such as shoot locations, sound recording studios and editing rooms.
Aspects such as scenes, sequences, set-ups, camera locations, positions of various crew members, seating arrangements, food and catering arrangements, staggered meal timings should be planned while giving due consideration to physical distancing norms, according to the I&B ministry document.
Measures should be taken by the production team to involve a minimum number of cast and crew members during the shoot, the SOPs said.
Majethia, chairman, TV wing, Indian Film and Television Producers Council (IFTPC), said the guidelines have been worked out in "great detail" and is aimed to ensure utmost safety of the cast and crew.
"Now there is uniformity but they have also given freedom to the states to be flexible as per their individual situation. It's a fantastic point of view to have a policy during such times, giving flexibility to the state as well," the actor-producer told .
The move will have ripple effects as several sectors stand to gain when shooting is resumed across the country, added Pandit.
"When Centre announces something like this, it generates tremendous hope across sectors. In UP and Rajasthan, we have proper film based workers, junior artistes, technicians, carpenters, etc. When a shoot goes outdoors, the transport, hotel industry also benefit. So the entire chain will benefit," he said.