The Covid-19 crisis might have slowed down the entertainment industry, but it continues to remain a big source of employment and revenue. As shoots resume across the country, there’s one more exciting announcement made by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who recently announced setting up country’s ‘biggest’ film city around Noida, UP.
While we wonder how significant an announcement is this for Bollywood, filmmakers and industry experts have mixed reactions on the impact of such plans.
Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar says it could be a boost. “Not only for Bollywood, but across India. Like I shot 70 percent of Chandni Bar in Ramoji Rao filmcity (Hyderabad), every equipment was provided. If facilities are provided by the UP government, the industry will definitely go. We need such infrastructure. Indoor sequences we anyway don’t shoot in Mumbai, like the entire bar sequence of Chandni Bar was in Hyderabad, but the outdoor sequences in Mumbai in patches,” says the 52-year-old.
The fact that many films are anyway shot in states such as Madhya and Uttar Pradesh nowadays is pointed out by Ashoke Pandit, chief advisor, Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE).
“I am going to shoot in Bhopal on September 25 for my film The Last Show with Anupam Kher and Satish Kaushik, directed by Vivek Agnihotri. People need changes now in infrastructure, they want to move out and explore culture of other states. These days, you cannot be centered around one particular city,” he shares, adding that such studios coming up will also boost livelihoods of all stakeholders.
““You are giving job opportunities to various people, from various states who have come to Mumbai. It will be easy for them to stay in their homes and work in the industry. Actors and technicians can live in their cities and not struggle in Mumbai to make careers,” adds Pandit.
However, some feel that even such announcements won’t impact Mumbai’s status as the hub of Bollywood.
“Now films are shot all across the world, and not as much as in Mumbai. People shoot in Lucknow, or even London. As far as hub is concerned, I don’t think the hub of filmmaking will change, the business will stay in Mumbai,” reasons director Vikram Bhatt.
Echoing similar views, actor and casting director, Abhishek Banerjee, says, “This is a very production based question, about what this announcement really holds for the film industry. But as an actor, you already go to different places and studios, it doesn’t matter where we are. It’s good of course in a way.”
Recalling fate of similar plans in the past, trade expert Atul Mohan, says, “I remember all TV channels had shifted base there. Madhya Pradesh government also invited many producers, and created landmarks near Bhopal. Same kind of proposal was planned between Mumbai and Goa, in the Konkan belt, that didn’t work out. I am not discouraging anybody, I am just recalling the past announcements. If they announce some kind of package or bonuses.. they would have to give incentives to producers who will then plan to shoot there.”
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