25 September 2020 03:48 PM

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AMITABH SRIVASTAVA | 3 SEPTEMBER, 2020

Bollywood Will Survive This Too

Bombay High Court overturns Maharashtra government order


Bollywood is in the doldrums and not just due to corona.

There is a huge movement, mostly on social media, egged on by some hysterical loud-mouth anchors, to condemn everything associated with Bollywood.

Every actor, producer, director old or young is being painted as a villain. An evil wind is blowing through the whole industry that provides sustenance to thousands of artists and technicians, painting it as an adda of drugs, lust, greed, and everything evil.

But it must be remembered that Bollywood has been a contributor to the Indian economy in a big way, being the largest producer of films in the world as of 2016.

Despite the advent of digital media, an estimated 2.2 billion Bollywood movie tickets are sold annually throughout the country. In 2017 the industry grew 27% and it was predicted that revenues would increase from 156 to 191 billion rupees by 2021.

But all that now looks like a distant dream.

The state government’s restrictions imposed on the shooting of films and TV serials, till Corona lasts, will suffocate the growth of Bollywood.

The first code of conduct worked out between the Maharashtra Government and the Producers Guild of India to resume shooting clearly mentions that physical distancing of six feet will have to be maintained at all costs.

Which means no more hugging, no kissing, and of course no scenes of sexual assault, putting the villains out of a job. Even shaking hands with colleagues or sharing cigarettes is forbidden.

It seems that directors and producers will have to resort to the age-old methods of filming flowers being shaken and butterflies to express love-making.

Instead of cosying up to to each other to express their feelings, they could now be singing 'Mere piya gaye Rangoon, kiya hai wahan se telephoon'… Of course mobiles could make their task easier, but what about the audiences and the lyric writers? Its going to be total mayhem.

The costs are going to rise further because makeup artists will not be allowed to share the items they use including wigs for fear of contamination.

But the most contentious issue during this crisis has been the initial advisory that crew above the age of 60 would not be allowed to work.

Many artistes including actors Kanwaljit Singh and Surekha Sikri protested that this was unfair.

The government order had to be modified when on August 7 the Bombay High Court quashed and set aside conditions imposed by the Maharashtra government through two government resolutions which barred any cast or crew members older than 65 years from working at a shooting site.

This happened when actor Pramod Pandey, 69, along with the Indian Motion Pictures Producers Association went to court.

The court said the government’s decision was discriminatory.

It asked the Maharashtra government why, if it did not stop a senior citizen from opening a shop and sitting there all day, it was stopping artistes from working.

The court found that the order of the government failed to satisfy requirements of Article 14 (Right to Equality) of the Constitution and observed that restrictions on elderly persons should be uniform, regardless of sector or activity.

Fans of Amitabh Bachchan must have heaved a sigh of relief, as now they will still be able to watch their favourite star who has defied age to give performances to worldwide acclaim.

And he is not the only one saying “Budha hoga tera Baap”, even though he and his entire family has been through the trauma of being infected with the virus and coming out safe.

There are a lot of actors both men and women for whom acting is their sole source of sustenance. It has been their persona that gets them the likes in millions, much like actors around the globe.

Bollywood is not just about Nach Gana as is being made out through a virulent, systematic campaign.

The glamour industry has given us performers who mesmerised the world through sheer mastery of their craft.

It is why Bollywood, which stands like a rock in every crisis, is going to survive.

An industry where a Mohammad Rafi gives a soulful rendering of 'Man Tarpat Hari Darshan ko Aaj' or a Yusuf Khan (Dilip Kumar) can enchant viewers by singing 'Ram Chandra Kah Gaye Siya Se' is a trustee of India's social and cultural ethos.

It cannot be allowed to be vandalised by a few whose sole agenda is destruction.

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