The Impact of COVID-19: A Producer's Perspective with Anand Pandit

Anand Pandit has some major releases this year which include the Amitabh Bachchan starrer, 'Chehre', amongst others. How the lockdown is affecting films, and what a film set may look like in the near future, all is up for grabs in this conversation with him. 

As a producer who has two big films slated for release this year, what do you envision in terms of actual release dates and the reliance on OTT platforms for some films?

I think as an economy in general and an industry in particular, we are slowly restarting the engines of growth. As a producer I know that it is going to take time and I have to play the 'patience' game. I wouldn't want to speculate on release dates but a significant delay is likely given that the infection levels are still high in certain cities, audiences might be reluctant to go out of their homes and the backlog of films that are already ready for release. As for OTT platforms, I think they come as a godsend for some producers who might not have any other option but to go that route. I completely understand the situation that exhibitors find themselves in but we will need to look at everyone's concerns.  

'Chehre' is with Amitabh Bachchan. 'The Big Bull' with Abhishek Bachchan. Both are films the audiences were looking forward to. Is there a particular plan in place currently for the potential delay of the release of these films?

Honestly, we had one plan at the beginning of the lockdown and successively over the weeks that plan has evolved. All of us find ourselves in a fluid situation where parameters keep changing and they are not within our control. So, yes of course we have a plan and I intend to release both films in the manner that such big projects should be. But I think my plan will have to be in tandem with the larger plan that the authorities have. I don't intend to make any hasty decisions. 

As a producer, obviously, there are so many workers and artists affected by the current lockdown. What kind of support have you been lending and what kind of support do you think will be important for filmmakers, producers, actors, and other crew members once the lockdown is over?

Without going into too many details I would just like to say that I have tried to do my bit. Daily wage workers and artists are the backbone of this industry and I am proud to say that many from within the fraternity played their part in making sure these workers are looked after. They need constant support and that is what Anand Pandit Motion Pictures is trying to provide. Once the lockdown is over I think the most important support we require is clarity on the guidelines, ease of shooting in different parts of the country and every member of the crew doing their bit to ensure we have infection-free sets. I believe that we have to learn to live with the virus and we cannot and must not throw caution to the wind once restrictions are lifted. That's the most important kind of support we will require - for everyone to act and live responsibly. 

The world is going through trying times, to say the least. There may be restrictions on large public gatherings for the next little while. How do you think that will affect the shooting of films? What is a potential solution, if any?  

I believe every problem comes with its own solution. I am imagining that there will be restrictions for a while on large gatherings. This would essentially translate into crew sizes being reduced to ensure projects stay viable. I would personally say that this is the time to think of very smart and innovative storytelling. It's not easy but that is one of the solutions we are looking at. Tweaking scripts so that we can still hold the essence of the story.


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