Like other sectors, Mumbai’s film industry has also come to a grinding halt as the city and the state grapple with the coronavirus outbreak. With COVID-19 cases still rising in Mumbai, Satej Patil, the minister of state (Home) is now promoting his home constituency of Kolhapur as an alternative destination for the industry. Patil told The Indian Express that he has started talks with various production houses in this regard.
Other than being the financial capital, Mumbai also houses numerous studios where shootings of both movies and television serials take place. The industry that employees lakhs of people has come to a standstill. Work has come to a halt at numerous studios in and around Mumbai. With the lockdown soon going to enter its fourth stage, many producers and production houses are getting restive to restart their operations.
Patil said Kolhapur has played a pivotal role in the early days of the Marathi film industry. Spread across 75 acres, Chitranagari, the state government’s film studio, is also located near Kolhapur city. “The state government has spent over Rs 8-10 crore in its modernisation and the studio can be used as a venue for both movies and television serials,” Patil said.
Patil, who is also the guardian minister for Kolhapur, pointed out to various farm houses and other scenic locations that dot the landscape of the region. Patil said more than 600 farm houses have been collated, which can serve as an ideal location for film shooting.
“The lockdown has seen lightmen and other technical staff leaving back to their own states. Other than the studio, Kolhapur also has the required technical staff and thus can fill up the void. If we do not offer alternatives to the film industry, it is most likely it will gravitate towards studios in south India, who offer them plug-and-play facilities,” he said.
While Mumbai continues to report a steady rise in new cases, Kolhapur has so far managed to keep the virus at check. In order to keep the district green, Patil said anyone who wishes to shoot in the district will have to undergo the compulsory screening as well as home quarantine. “Everything is in the planning stage and the state government will have to give permission to restart the operations. In this regard, I will talk to Amit Deshmukh, the minister for medical education, and request for specific guidelines,” Patil said.
He also pointed out how the state government has allowed the restarting of industries in phases and the same could be done for the film and television sector. “I have spoken to some of the production houses and they have expressed their willingness to shoot in Kolhapur,” he said.