The Tamil cinema industry is in no hurry to begin shooting. Meanwhile, Tamil serials have approached the government for permission to resume shooting with a maximum of 30 people on a set.
A group of Tamil film producers met Information and Publicity Minister Kadambur Raju to seek permission to start editing, dubbing, VFX/CGI and background music works with an upper limit of five people, citing the example of Kerala government's permission for the same.
"We'll work with a maximum of five people and take all necessary precautions, we are expecting a press announcement from the government soon. There are 50 films waiting for post production work to be completed," said G Dhananjayan, one of the producers who handed over the letter.
Dhananjayan said that the industry has over Rs 500 crore investment locked down, including films for which only post production is pending. The industry, however, is not in a haste to resume shooting as it could lead to a 'big disaster'.
"TV serials have asked for permission to shoot with 30 people. Government has allowed factories with 50 people, so they're asking on that idea and the government may consider that," said Dhananjayan.
He added, "But a movie cannot be shot with 50 people, we need minimum 80 people. So it's too big a risk for us to demand that. If we assemble 100 people and shoot, a few people might hide symptoms and come for shoot because everyone needs money. That could lead to a big disaster. We saw what happened in Koyambedu market. We can control things if there are a few people. We as producers are responsible. So we're waiting for the wave to subside. We don't want to get into a situation where something goes wrong and we are blamed. Everyone is going to go slow on the shooting, we're in no hurry. Even the post production work, we have to handle carefully."
Dhananjayan expects the situation to be dicey till there is a vaccine for the coronavirus.
"Generally there is going to be fear about shooting, unless we have a vaccine. If that comes, there won't be any problems for shooting. Till then, people are going to look at each other with fear. Even if someone coughs, he'll be looked upon differently. It is inevitable. Just because I want to be nice with people, I don't want to get infected, right? So it won't be pleasant to begin. That's why we'd like to keep the shooting as late as possible. We don't want to be in a hurry and be unproductive. What's the fun of starting a shoot if people are going to be scared or some of them not coming to the shoot?"
Meanwhile, theatre owners are expecting to open up by September 1, and are in the process of framing safety guidelines. There were suggestions that theatres could open up without canteens, but the owners are unlikely to be pleased as much of their revenue comes from canteen sales.
"I expect all theatres to open up latest by September 1," said Abirami Ramanathan, President of Chennai Theatre Owners Association and the Multiplex Association of Tamil Nadu.
He further said, "It's a matter of maximum two months in all zones - green, orange or red. Movies have to release simultaneously in all centres, there's no question of releasing them only in specific zones. As for safety measures, we'll have mandatory temperature checks at entrances, disinfectant cakes at urinals. Masks will be made compulsory. We can even provide free masks for those who don't bring. Cafeteria staff will be wearing gloves and masks, and all staff will be blood tested once a week. We are discussing these and can make these as a common rule for all theatres from the association. Once done, we'll make an announcement soon."