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Before Yash Raj Films became a corporate and shifted to a high-tech office in Andheri, Yash Chopra used to watch all his work from a relatively small office. It is still present in a bungalow in Juhu. It had a small lobby on the ground floor and also a lift leading directly to the first floor. Yash Chopra had his own office in about half of this first floor. The remaining half consisted of small cabins for his administrative staff.
I often met Yashji. He would tell me stories of his struggle, his first film as a director, first premieres and his improvisation at V. Shantaram’s Rajkamal Studio in Parel, but completely the first independent office. He describes how films were made in the family days in the old days. Actors who wanted to work with them would cast them, check their dates and take out a Muhurta. Within a year, the film would have been made. There is no contract in writing, yet everyone has committed it. Would work the same way. Everything was based on trust and relationships. No one has any complaints.
The work-culture changed drastically after decades. Budgets also increased a lot. Yashji jokingly says, earlier the amount of money used to make a film, now the budget has to be kept for Manish Malhotra’s designed costume. He would say, ‘I would whisper the figure of the amount in the actor’s ear and it would be settled on the same day.’
But soon the contract became an essential thing for all studios and production houses. To avoid any problems in future, a huge amount would be spent on top legal teams. But two such incidents took place in 2020 which changed the reality of this entire business of entertainment. One, the epidemic of Corona and the second, the unnatural death of Sushant Singh Rajput.
Bhavana Somaya, a well-known film writer, critic and historian
Wearing the ‘New Normal’ mask of daily life, maintaining a distance of two yards and washing hands with soap repeatedly, but for the film world ‘New Normal’ will have to find something ‘revolutionary’. ‘Work from home culture’ can be adopted in all other professions, but it is not possible for films. In this, many people have important roles on many levels, for example an actor needs a Macup Artist and a Costume Designer. Lightman is a must for a cameraman. And then the director needs many assistants. And everyone has to come in close contact with each other.
Despite considerable challenges, some film and television production houses have started shooting by arranging thermometers, sanitizers and doctors on the sets. Recently, Satish Kaushik posted a picture of himself and said that we are ready. His entire team was seen in PPE kits and Shields. Another actor tweeted that how the dialogue writers are creating scenes of the intents in such a way that the actor-actress does not have to touch each other.
The biggest challenge will come with the fund. As a result, only a few projects will come up in the coming years, with relatively low budgets and fewer crew members. This will be the new normal of the entertainment world. Everyone has to accept low honorarium. There will be no Spot Boy. Technical teams will also have to run with a few assistants. Shooting outside India, but perhaps also outside Maharashtra, will have to be stopped for the moment.
Star contracts will also be stricter now. While there will be confidentiality conditions under which actors are prohibited from discussing the content, some more conditions can be added, such as not being able to bring their guests to the shooting location, taking a selfie or picture on set. . Many filmmakers ban cosmetic surgeries so that their hero or heroine does not look different in the middle of the film. Now any condition related to narcotics can also come, which can undoubtedly be the result of Sushant Singh Rajput case.
If Ekta Kapoor can ask her actors for their horoscope, then the army of filmmakers’ lawyers also have every right to think ‘out of box’.