They are back — or are they? Well, it sure looks like that Bollywood stars are in the mood to resume working, albeit with baby steps — through endorsements. While actor Akshay Kumar recently shot for an awareness campaign on Covid-19, Ayushmann Khurrana shot for an endorsement in Chandigarh, where he’s living with his family currently. Vidya Balan too, stepped out to shoot for an ad at Mehboob Sudios, Mumbai. And Arjun Kapoor too, we learned, recently shot for a commercial .
Experts feel it’s a sign that big actors are ready to test the waters, as to whether it’s feasible to shoot right now or not. Producer Pritish Nandy says, “Endorsement shoots are very short. Ultimately, it’s for a duration of a half or one minute. What we need to do is test out shooting on a continuing basis, which requires another kind of discipline, and entirely different set of protocols.”
Vinil Mathew, an ad maker who made his Bollywood directorial debut with Hasee Toh Phasee (2014), feels that everyone is on a ‘wait and watch’ mode right now.
“They’re all seeing how these days of shooting go, as commercials are easier, because it’s a day’s commitment and not tiring. If it comes to feature films, it’s a different ball game. In this humid weather, for people to wear PPE suits, masks and gloves is practically impossible, especially considering the units and labour we have in our country,” he says, adding that it’s a “risk analysis” by the stars.
Given that actors, until recently, had been missing from the work space for three months, endorsements might be an alternative way for influx of money. Nandy concurs, “Ads make a lot more money than movies do. Proportionately it’s higher, as you work less, you make more money, except that work won’t be remembered.”
In fact, many agree that while film shoots on a large scale are yet to begin, shooting of commercials will allow people from other departments to earn a living. Amit Sharma, who directed Badhaai Ho (2018), and shot an ad in Goa recently, says, “Somewhere, we’ll have to normalise the situation by taking care of the time of the shoot, and precautions. Till when will people sit at home? People who associated with filmmaking — the light men, dressing department, they don’t have money to even buy food. For that reason also (ad shoots have started). The commercial I just shot, there were not more than 10 people, everybody in the background.”
While these instances certainly prove that actors are prepared to venture out, trade analyst Taran Adarsh feels they were not apprehensive in the first place. “It’s not that the actors aren’t ready, the film producers also have to work out the details. For an ad shoot, you don’t require 200 people on set. So, for actors – of course money is involved – it’s also more convenient. If they’ve been approached for an ad, and they can do it in a safe atmosphere, why not?,” he says.
Trade expert Atul Mohan says big stars shooting for ads is a “confidence building measure”, one that’ll inspire their colleagues in the industry to also step out and work.
“The actors will share their experience, and tips with their co-stars and that’ll make others comfortable. Right now, a positive mindset is needed. You’ve to live and survive with Coronavirus, till a vaccine is made. This will set an example for the rest of the film fraternity,” he tells us.
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