Shooting in the thick of a global pandemic sounds daunting but actor Lara Dutta Bhupathi reveals that the challenges during this unusual time were dealt with professionalism and personal attention on the sets of the Akshay Kumar-starrer, Bell Bottom.
She says, “Initially, it was normal to feel a little anxious considering that Covid-19 cases are rising rapidly in India. But I was reassured to see all protocols in place. Ours was the first film to be shot after the lockdown but despite the nervousness, we were all eager to get back to work. We took a chartered fight to Scotland.” Directed by Ranjit M Tewari, the spy thriller was shot extensively in Scotland. Producers Vashu Bhagnani, Jackky Bhagnani and Deepshikha Deshmukh ensured that the cast and crew felt totally safe, on and off the sets.
Talking about the efforts of the producers, the Hundred actor adds, “The entire unit was tested in Mumbai and after landing, we were tested again and sent into a two-week quarantine. As we were all together, it did not feel that we were imprisoned. Akshay and Deepshikha had brought their kids and so had I. So, we all spent time together, kept the circle tight and safe for each other and the children. It gave me a sense of security.”
Thrilled about returning to work, the actor admits that to be a part of the first film to be shot after the lockdown felt “hugely gratifying”. She says, “When shooting finally began, I was the first actor on the sets. I felt grateful to be on a set where every single precaution possible was being taken, sanitisation was meticulous and the cast and crew were checked every day. Everything was secure, right from the food delivery on sets to the drivers who took us to and fro. Yes, we had to remove our masks during scenes but because we felt safe in a strictly regulated environment, we just wanted to do our job to the best of our abilities.”
While she calls the experience of shooting in such an environment, a “surreal experience”, she also hopes “this is not going to be the new normal”.