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How are Pakistani dramas being shot in the era of Corona?

In Pakistan, as in the rest of the world, the coronavirus has affected many areas of life, including the entertainment world. The epidemic has not only slowed down the TV industry but has also changed the way dramas are shot.

Due to Corona, the shooting of dramas was stopped for several months, however, there are no signs of an end to the epidemic in the near future, so shooting of dramas has resumed in Corona’s presence.

SOPs are being strictly enforced during the shooting. Whether it is TV channels or production houses, SOPs and social distance are being taken care of everywhere. The use of masks and sanitizers has also become common. Unauthorized persons are not allowed to come to the location while thermal scanning of the concerned persons is also being done.

Production houses say the resumption of drama shootings was necessary because hundreds of people’s livelihoods depended on it.

‘Corona virus has changed the way we work’

The shooting of ‘Dunk’, a production of ‘Big Bang Entertainment’ for the ‘ARY’ channel has also started. It is directed by Badr Mahmood who has previously directed super hit dramas like ‘Aisi Hai Tanhai’, ‘Bala’, and ‘Cheekh’.

Badr Mahmood believes that the corona virus has not only affected work but also changed the way we work.

Speaking to VOA, Badr Mahmood said that shooting dramas would take a long time to return to the old style. Shooting rates at bungalows and other locations have risen. Now the owners are asking for more rent. The cast has to be more careful due to precautionary measures, even two or three make-up rooms have to be set up for this purpose.

Badr Mahmood said that shooting of dramas has resumed after about three months. The survival of the TV industry, and especially of the channels, was at stake. They had nothing to show for it. The artists didn’t even have a job, they sat hand in hand, so the shooting had to be restarted despite the presence of the coronavirus.

The drama serial ‘Dunk’ is written by Mohsin Ali while its prominent artists include Bilal Abbas Khan, Sana Javed, Noman Ijaz, Shahid Alvi, Laila Wasti, Fahad Sheikh, Salma Hassan, and Saif Hassan.

Bilal Abbas Khan is playing the role of a hero. Even before this, he has impressed everyone with his performances in Badr Mahmood’s successful dramas ‘Bala’ and ‘Cheekh’. These days another of his dramas ‘Pyar Ke Sadqa’ is being aired.

Speaking to VOA, he said that the implementation of SOPS is the only way to get the drama industry back on its feet, so it has been decided to resume shooting.

Bilal Abbas Khan said that all the production houses are resuming the shooting after assuring a safe environment. In such a situation, it is the duty of the actors to strictly implement the SOPs.

‘There was no other way’

Meanwhile, the shooting of ‘Hum TV’ drama ‘Jog’ is also in full swing. Sami Khan and Sonia Hussain are playing the lead roles in this play directed by Mohsin Talat. Due to Corona, the shooting of the play was stopped in March and could resume in June.

Mohsin says that initially it was not expected that the shooting would be interrupted due to the virus. Since it was to air shortly after Eid al-Adha, there was no choice but to resume shooting.

“Every effort is being made to ensure that everyone wears a mask and gloves,” he told VOA. Actors have tissue paper and hand sanitizers at all times, the temperature of each individual is checked regularly. Everyone is allowed to come to the set only after disinfection.

‘We have to adapt to the situation’

Actor Shahid Alvi has been associated with the drama industry for the last 20 years. Be it a remake of ‘Karan Kahani’ in the ’90s or Mehreen Jabbar’s play ‘Wasil’, Shahid Alvi has seen many ups and downs in the drama industry. He is currently playing the role of actor Bilal Abbas Khan’s father in ARY’s drama serial ‘Dink’.

Talking to VOA, he said that man adopts everything with time. He has the ability to adjust to any environment within himself. Adjustment is a must. People will adjust to the Corona restrictions over time. Our style and the way we work will fit into that environment.

The work of the production team increased because of Corona?

Badr Mahmood believes that before corona, the entire production team of any drama used to focus on its shooting, after which the focus was on post-production, but in the current situation, the work of both post and pre-production has increased.

According to him, now every morning before the shooting, our team sprays disinfectant on the location, only after that the actors are called to the set. There is an attempt to have only two people in the make-up room at a time, ie only the actor and the make-up artist. We have created three make-up rooms to make up more actors. The use of waterproof makeup has increased because waterproof makeup does not need to be repaired frequently.

According to Badr Mahmood, it is impossible for the drama industry to move forward without following SOPs because of Karuna. Every morning all the actors and the team are checked in temperature, they are given masks and gloves and special attention is paid to those working in front of the camera. Each actor has been provided with hand sanitizer and disinfectant spray. The headphones used by the director are also thoroughly disinfected.

Badr Mahmood also said that SOPs are taken care of even after pack-up and once the artists leave, once again the entire shooting area is disinfected. According to him, as long as there is a risk of corona, all precautions will be taken in the same way.

Mohsin Talat, the director of ‘Jog’, also spoke about some such initiatives. He said that the daily duties of his production team include cleaning and disinfecting the entire set every day, because of these SOPs, the actors had agreed to participate in the shooting until Karuna was finished. The same will not happen with SOPs.

‘Acting methods have also changed’

In this regard, Bilal Abbas Khan said that every actor tries to come in contact with the fellow actor at least during the shooting or off-camera. In the past, actors used to come into the character and hold each other’s hands or stand close to each other, but now this cannot happen.

Shahud Alvi said that the actors are taking care of social distance but according to the demand of the scene, if someone has to be touched or hugged, the scene is sensitized before and after the scene.

He termed the implementation of SOPs as the best way to avoid corona. He said that all the artists wear masks and gloves when they sit together before the scene, they take them off before going on camera, but immediately after the shot is completed, the senate and wear new masks and gloves.