Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai)

‘I was convinced of OTT’S potential before Covid-19’

- Rishabh Suri PHOTO: INSTAGRAM Kavita Awaasthi rishabh.suri@htlive.com kavita.awaasthi@htlive.com

Actors sure sound excited to step out and get back to work. While some are still a bit apprehensi­ve given the Covid-19 pandemic, Anil Kapoor certainly isn’t one of them. He got a chance to complete the dubbing for his upcoming web film, and admits experienci­ng the new normal was “interestin­g”.

The 63-year-old tells us, “We had to be more mindful of our safety and the safety of the people around us. From wearing protective gear to maintainin­g social distance, it was a working environmen­t that none of us have ever seen before. And yet, it was refreshing to come back to work to find that everyone was just as motivated and committed to making these stories come alive!”

Kapoor sees it as a great sign that the Maharashtr­a government is cautiously allowing shoots for all formats to begin again, albeit with strict guidelines in place. “It proves what experts everywhere have been telling us all along...that we need to make safety procedures and building immunity a part of our daily lives. Covid-19 is not going away anytime soon so it’s imperative that we adjust our expectatio­ns of what’s considered ‘normal’ to include these basic but crucial precaution­s,” he says.

The hot debate in Bollywood is about filmmakers opting for a direct-to-ott release over waiting for theatres to reopen. While theatre owners aren’t happy with the decision taken by a host of biggies recently, some opine that people involved in a film need to save their money.

After actor Parth Samthaan tested positive for Covid-19, every unit member, including his co-stars got their tests done as a precaution­ary measure, as he had been shooting on sets for a few days. Actor Karan Patel, who had recently joined the TV show, is glad that his test was negative.

As someone who has seen the industry change over the years, we ask Kapoor what he feels about this. He quips, “We’re all facing some really tough decisions in these times, but at the end of the day, it’s up to those invested in the film to take a call.”

The actor, however, maintains that he was convinced of the potential digital platforms had “even before Covid-19 came into the picture”. He explains, “My next film was always going to have a digital release because we were all convinced of the power and reach of digital platforms, even when many warned us against taking such a huge risk. It’s reassuring to see a lot of other producers release their movies digitally now. That being said, when the theatres do open (and are deemed safe), we are bound to see a whole lot of people flock to the medium that they know and love.”

Patel admits that he was “pretty calm” about the test as he knew he had shot with Samthaan at a distance and not for a long duration. He says, “I had left the set post my shoot and as I have my own vanity van, which I sanitise regularly, I wasn’t that concerned. I took the test for my family, on my own accord, not because Parth was detected. I did it to give some mental peace to my family and the ones who were worried about my well being. It was also what a responsibl­e citizen should do. It’s better to be safe than sorry.”

Working and shooting in times of Covid-19 takes a toll on people. Actors, too, have their share of worries as they work in close proximity and can’t wear masks while shooting. Talking about the experience, Patel says, “We all have our daily expenses to meet, so working is imperative. It’s sad we are going through such times and it’s important we all be safe. Having stayed indoors for as long as we have, we have to earn and do the needful. Yes, it’s scary to shoot which is why it’s important to take precaution­s. It is stressful and also mentally tiring but one needs to do what has to be done. I love work and I am glad we are getting back to normalcy slowly. I think this virus is here to stay, for a bit more at least as its an ongoing pandemic, so what we can do is take all the precaution­s, and then some more and be safe. Be careful and follow rules.”

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Karan Patel

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