A film set requires anywhere between 100-500 people: Can social distancing be a reality on a Bollywood film set?


With social distancing practices becoming the new normal in everyone’s life, the film industry federations and unions are also planning for new working conditions on a film set. The guidelines issued by the Maharashtra Government to the film industry strictly state the requirement of social distancing by minimising physical contact, maintaining a distance of minimum six feet and wearing of masks and gloves by all persons on set, except for those on screen.

But a film set, which requires anywhere between 100-500 people and which is so dependent on personal interactions and contact, how will it be possible to implement social distancing?

Actor Radhika Apte says that social distancing is not possible on a Bollywood film set and certain other measures have to be thought of instead.

“But, then I don’t think social distancing is possible in day-to-day life in general. You have to accept it’s not possible and take as many precautions. I know as much as everybody does, we need to find a way to survive till we find a vaccine,” she says.

Shooting particular scenes, especially those involving crowds, will be very difficult in such a scenario, and filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar feels that the entire structure of has to be reworked.

“The nature of our business is such that we cannot do much of social distancing. For instance if I have to shoot a party scene, a bar scene, a courtroom scene or a fashion show, how am I going to do it and maintain social distancing? How much precautions can we take? Let’s see what template we have to follow, the industry seniors, the associations and respective bodies will decide what we have to do,” he shares.

As per the guidelines, PPE should be worn by hair and make-up artists and other crew involved in activities involving person-to person contact.

Makeup artist Pompy Hans, who works with actor Kareena Kapoor Khan, says he is very unsure as to how their work will go on with social distancing.

“When it comes to makeup and hair, you have to touch people by brush and in many cases by hand when you have to do body make up. I don’t know how it is going to be possible. You can’t also expect the actor to do their own make up. Film make up is very different and anyway their job is to act, not do makeup and hair. This is not a practical solution,” he quips.

Echoing similar sentiments, actor Saiyami Kher says certain aspects of a film set requires contact, so there is still a long way before work can resume on a film set.

“I have a project which is 80 percent done but makers and producers are saying they won’t take any risk even with social distancing in place,” she adds.


Having said that, many feel that work must resume soon and things can move forward if social distancing protocols are followed strictly.

A spot boy, on the condition of anonymity shares, “We haven’t been paid for so long. If the government has shared guidelines of social distancing then the industry must follow that and start the film production.”

Designer Anju Modi, who has worked on magnum opus Bajirao Mastani feels that it is not as challenging as some are making this to be.

“The costumes can be fumigated and sanitised regularly and then there should not be any problem at all. We can limit the number of people who have access to the wardrobes on a film set too,” she says.

Highlighting on the need for “innovative ways” to move forward with social distancing, producer Bhushan Kumar says, “The safety is paramount, we are working towards it. There are meetings going on and we are trying to formulate a way forward.”

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