Location Diaries: Shooting during the times of Corona
This weekly column details the fascinating encounters that often take place on the sets of a film and it is FIR
The impact of Coronavirus is everywhere. And films are no exception. Shooting for his next home production, FIR, turned out to be quite complicated for Vishnu Vishal, for this reason. The crew was shooting at Hyderabad airport during the first week of March.
“I had been following the developments at Wuhan from the start. I had a feeling the situation would start intensifying in India soon. As we shot at Hyderabad airport, we saw a large number of people around us wearing masks. But as actors, of course, we could not do that. Even in between shots, it was not possible, as the make-up would wear off and we had no time for longer touch-up breaks,” he says. On the final day, the crew apparently shot continuously from 6 pm to 4 am the next day, before taking an early morning flight back to Chennai. “We were anxious and wanted to return home soon."
It was during those three days at Hyderabad airport that a realisation supposedly dawned on Vishnu Vishal. “We had been surrounded by hundreds of travelers from across the globe. Seeing them, I realised how easy it was for an infection to spread, given how hundreds of us touch the same spaces. Globalisation has brought everyone closer and makes it so much easier for infections to spread. It was clear that avoiding contact with others is key." That's when he decided to put his staff on paid leave and send them home.
Vishnu decided to halt shooting even though they had been taking precautions like sanitising. "I cancelled the shoot that was scheduled later in March, and gave an advance to my unit members and sent them on paid leave. Since I did this before official announcements were made, many people thought I was overreacting. But the Hyderabad stint left a strong impression on me and had heightened my awareness. I felt I had to act fast and in a responsible manner. Limiting contact between the crew was most crucial and halting shoot was the best and only way forward."
Seeing the current situation, Vishnu says he has only one wish. "People should realise how crucial social distancing is because if large numbers fall sick all at once, the medical infrastructure would be over-burdened, leading to a more critical situation."