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Unlock in Mumbai: Level 3 keeps TV, Bollywood off sets

While Akshay Kumar's film will return to the floors after state government's bio-bubble nod, continued curbs means others are taking it slow.

A week after the state government gave the go-ahead to filming in a bio-bubble, Bollywood is taking it slow and steady. Among the top stars, Akshay Kumar has taken the lead and will resume shooting for Aanand L Rai's 'Raksha Bandhan' at Film City this week.

A source from the production team reveals, "Since our set has been lying unused, Akshay sir requested the makers to resume production, assuring them that he has recovered from the post-COVID fatigue. Aanand sir is handpicking a lean crew for the stint." A few miles away from Film City, debutant Junaid Khan reported to the Maharaja shoot at a Marol set last week.

Shoot while the team of Tiger 3 is waiting it out

With Mumbai continuing to observe Level-3 restrictions for the next fortnight despite moving to Level 2 in terms of positivity rate and oxygen bed occupancy, shoots will have to be wrapped up by 5 pm daily. The eight-hour work limit coupled with the bio-bubble expenses have discouraged many from being set-bound. Yash Raj Films, the studio backing 'Maharaja', is waiting it out for bigger productions like Pathan and Tiger 3. A source reveals that both films were being shot in a bio-bubble up to mid-April. "Each had a large unit of over 100 people. YRF tested everyone regularly and had put up the crews at a hotel. It was spending a substantial amount of money on these safety norms. But at this point, keeping the expenses and the teams' safety in mind, they have decided to return to work only after crew members have got the first dose of the vaccine."

The restrictions are posing a problem for the overburdened television industry. Ashok Dubey, general secretary, Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE), explains, "Since they can film only till 5 pm, creators are unable to create a bank of episodes. Plus, it's not feasible to put up the cast and crew at hotels as most serials don't have massive budgets. Keeping these factors into account, many have not resumed work."

JD Majethia, who has been shooting 'Wagle Ki Duniya' in a bio-bubble in Silvassa since May, echoes Dubey's sentiment. "The cost goes up by five to 10 per cent per episode due to bio-bubble. Also, we need at least 12 hours a day to pull off an episode. Right now, in Mumbai, one can shoot for only eight hours, which is challenging."

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