The television industry recently resumed work after close to 100 days. Like other industries, the entertainment industry also came to a standstill following the outbreak of coronavirus. While the channels continued to keep its audience entertained with reruns and even old shows, now, with fresh content being shot, most serials will air new episodes from July 13.
But how was it for actors to step out from the safe confinement of their homes and get back to work? Being used to having 100 people around on sets to now just a handful, all dressed in PPEs and keeping a safe distance. And not to forget, being bestowed with extra responsibilities. From makeup and costume to food and handling their own odd-jobs, it’s a tough time for them, but these artistes are not complaining.
Bhakarwadi lead Deven Bhojani, who has been in the industry for more than three decades, shared with indianexpress.com that the environment on set is nothing but ‘unreal’ for him. He also said that he hates the term ‘new normal’ as he is hopeful that it’s just a short phase and soon things will go back to how it used to be.
“No one must have ever thought that we could shoot this way. It will take some time to accept and get used to function in this new way, where everybody is cautious and there’s no carefree or relaxed atmosphere anymore. I have to focus a little harder on my job, but the struggle is lesser by the day,” shared the actor.
On the other hand, accepting the new ways of functioning, Kamya Punjabi (Shakti – Astitva Ke Ehsaas Ki) said that the happiness of being back at work overpowered the fear. She remarked, “Honestly, we were all itching to be back on sets. Having being used to working religiously for so long, being at home after a while seemed weird. Yes, I was nervous as I didn’t want to take the virus back home, especially when I have young children at home. However, in these months, we have all understood the basic precautions necessary to keep yourself and your family protected.”
Punjabi shared with us that she carries with her everything needed on the set. She even disinfects the area where she settles down, and doesn’t even allow anyone to come close to her. “That way, I am assured that I have not come in contact with anything that could infect me. That, in turn, makes me feel secure when I go back home,” she added.
Dheeraj Dhoopar, who plays the role of Karan in Kundali Bhagya, further shared that he is happy that his fans will be able to watch them again. However, the anxiety to be among people did affect him when he was told to be back on set. The actor said, “There was nervousness and fear, along with excitement and happiness. The moment we stepped on the floor, we realised how well the preparation has been. Everyone is wearing a mask, and practicing social distancing. The set is being sanitised, oxygen and pulse levels are checked regularly, so you feel secure. Also, I read somewhere that actors are ‘entertainment warriors’, and it made me so happy and proud. We will continue to entertain our fans always.”
While most actors feel like warriors armed with masks and sanitisers, the struggle begins when they need to get ready, and sometimes even do their own makeup. Stated Kamya Punjabi, “I have always done my own makeup. It’s easier for me since I don’t like doing a lot and even my look is somewhat simple. However, some people have a lot more elaborate look and it is difficult for them. Some are trying themselves, others are taking assistance. I even carry my kit on the floor during shoot so that I can do the touch up myself.”
Deven Bhojani further shared that he learnt to do his own makeup and even how to tie a dhoti during the lockdown to make it easier on set. “The main task is to carry my own makeup kit, water bottle etc. everywhere on the floor because I want to avoid physical touch as much as possible. It’s quite funny to handle so many things at the same time. Holding the kit, water bottle, sanitizer and then taking care of ‘topi’ and ‘dhoti’, wearing and removing mask. You also need to keep a safe place during shots, learn dialogue and work on the nuances, keeping in mind the technicalities of shoot and so on. It’s too much to handle, and very challenging. What keeps me going is what I learnt in my theatre days, that the ‘show must go on.” The Baa Bahu Aur Baby actor also disclosed that he even washes his dishes, tiffin box, cups and cutlery on sets as part of his precautionary measures.
If one has been on a television set, the most celebratory moments are when there’s a break announced. Everyone gets together to catch up with each other over unlimited cups of tea and snacks. But all that has come to a halt now with people keeping a distance from each other. Dheeraj Dhoopar agreed that it’s tough to not greet each other with warm hugs or handshakes, but he feels there are other ways to show love, one being to protect each other.
Bhabiji Ghar Par Hain actor Shubhangi Atre said, “Earlier our set used to be buzzing with technicians, spot dadas and the rest of the crew every morning but now with limited people, the modern colony looks very different. We are limiting our group lunches and resorting to individual breaks to avoid gathering. The entire experience is quite different, but with time, we all will get used to it.”
All said and done, Kamya Punjabi feels that while it might be stressful, the precautions are the need of the hour if you love yourself and your work. “We chose to be actors because we love this craft. We are back to work because we wanted to. And now it’s all upon us to follow all measures if we want to continue working. If even one is careless right now, all efforts will go in vain. As they say, precaution is much better than care. So there are absolutely no complains as I love my job too much,” she concluded with a smile.
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