Bollywood faces a long uphill battle in its fight to return to normalcy as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on film shoots and cinematic releases.
Over the past 48 hours, two leading actors, namely Aamir Khan and Kartik Aaryan, have tested positive for the coronavirus. Kiara Advani, who walked the ramp with Aaryan over the weekend at Lakme Fashion Week, had to undergo a PCR test that came back as negative, only to reportedly return for another test after shooting an advertisement with Khan.
Designer Manish Malhotra, who invited Advani and Aaryan to be his showstoppers, is also reportedly being tested.
Cinematic releases have also been affected in India, with the launch of the Hindi version of ‘Haathi Mere Saathi’ now put on hold by Eros Now following a rise in cases in the norther territories of the country. Later that day, Zee Studios announced that it will delay the release of its Punjabi film ‘Puaada’.
“Due to the rising cases of COVID 19 and new guidelines for cinemas, with weekend and night closures of theatres, we have decided to postpone our movie ‘Puaada’ until further notice,” the studio said in a statement.
While the UAE has lucked out with ‘Haathi Mere Saathi’ still releasing in Hindi and Tamil on March 25, production houses in India are worried that with stalled shoots and delays in release will only burden studios further with rising costs.
Ajay Devgn’s ‘Maidaan’ has also reportedly stalled its filming with director Amit Ravindernath Sharma testing positive for the virus.
Speaking to Hindustan Times, ‘Bhool Bhulaiya 2’ director Anees Bazmee has lamented the spiralling costs. “It is very unfortunate that Aaryan has tested positive. We were taking all the precautions…. Following all the guidelines, itself brings a huge financial cost, and it is very important to follow them at present. And when shooting gets suspended all of a sudden because of a COVID positive case, it leads to huge loss, and we can’t do anything about it,” he told the daily.
Bazmee’s lead star Tabu is also currently awaiting the results of her PCR test having shot with Aaryan a day before he tested positive.
Earlier this month, a similar situation befell the shoot of ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’ when director Sanjay Leela Bhansali tested positive for COVID-19. Not only was the shoot stalled, but lead actress Alia Bhatt also had to go into isolation considering her actor-boyfriend Ranbir Kapoor had tested positive for the virus. (Bhatt tested negative.)
Khan, who is still wrapping up ‘Laal Singh Chaddha’ remains in isolation at home and can only return to the shoot after recovering completely. The film’s producer Ramesh Taurani is also reportedly recovering from the virus.