Sitamarhi (India) — The delay of the release of the latest Bond movie No Time To Die because of the Covid-19 pandemic has once again cast the spotlight on the film industries in various parts of the world.
Work has stopped, crews laid off and films delayed. Hollywood, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Bollywood have been affected.
Bollywood is often thought of as the Indian film industry but is, in fact, the name of its Hindi film industry. There are other centres like Tollywood (Telugu cinema) and Kollywood (Tamil cinema).
March is usually the busiest month for Bollywood. School exams are over and Hollywood’s summer blockbusters are typically still a couple of months away, making it the perfect time to release India’s big spring flicks.
However, in March last year, the Covid-19 pandemic brought the world’s most prolific film industry to a halt. Movie theatres shut their doors, production companies called off shoots and film studios delayed releases. And the pandemic has completely upended any plans to release movies in the near future.
In May last year, the pandemic is estimated to have cost India’s film industry more than 330 million Indian rupees (S$5.5 million) and counting in lost box office revenue. Even if movie theatres do reopen, they will continue to lose money if they are unable to seat full crowds. If the tickets are sold based on social distancing, the capacity will be reduced because for every seat sold, one seat remains vacant. Even if the turnout is 50%, there will be losses.
Mumbai, India’s entertainment capital and the home to Bollywood, is one of the most prolific centres of film-making globally.
In India, Bollywood is not the most significant industry in terms of output. Nevertheless, when it comes to global presence, box-office sales and far-reaching influence, Bollywood’s might exceeds that of the country’s other film industries, and Mumbai’s that of other cities.
Bollywood employs people from all over India. It attracts thousands of aspiring actors and actresses hoping for a break in the industry. Models and beauty contestants, television actors, stage actors and ordinary people come to Mumbai with the hope of becoming a star.
As an ordinary Indian citizen, who has almost no connections to the industry at present, reflecting at myself like all others, I can say that I love cinema and have grown up watching Bollywood.
To me, Bollywood is simply magic. There is no comparison to the films it produces. In the wake of the pandemic, however, there is a new era beginning. There are new Bollywood celebrities, new ideas in the industry, new lifestyles and new concepts. These days people are experimenting with all kinds of film-making techniques and subject matters instead of sticking to the old format.
Many ordinary people have to struggle in trying to make a mark in the industry but there already are the child stars who have had a head-start and an easier time in getting roles. They include Taimur, Misha and Abram.
And then there are the film families, where the fame and connections of the parents often open doors for their children. They include actors and actresses like Ananya Pandey, Jhanvi Kapoor and Sara Ali Khan, who get into the limelight immediately after their film debut.
With top actors from Bollywood and from television as their celebrity parents, these children already enjoy star status and attract about as much media attention as their parents do. The holidays, parties, planned film debut and whatever else they do makes headlines.
The parents have different strategies for handling this. While some stars prefer not to publicly share photos of their children, others go all out on social networks, letting their children get used to the media glare.
On the other hand, there are actors and actresses like Kiara Advani, Kirti Sanon and Sanya Malhotra. They had to wait and keep trying for years even after their debut.
The pandemic has upended the film industry all over the world and there are still no signs of it abating. As India battles Covid-19 with a massive vaccination campaign, theatre goers can once again look forward to the movie date. Those yet to be vaccinated have to keep in mind the usual protocols.
Simran Hisaria is an overseas intern with The Independent SG. /TISG
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