Covid 19: Bollywood stars, crew aged over 65 allowed to work


In this picture taken on July 21, 2020, a wall mural with images of Bollywood actors, is seen under a road bridge in Mumbai. Photo: AFP

Bollywood actors and crew aged over 65 will be allowed to resume shoots, an industry official said Friday (Aug 7), after an Indian court overturned coronavirus restrictions limiting the presence of older people on film sets.

The world's most prolific film industry has been struggling to get back on its feet after strict rules banning elaborate scenes and barring senior actors from shoots were unveiled in June.

But Friday's decision by a court in Mumbai has paved the way for actors over 65 to return to work, allowing some of India's most revered stars such as 77-year-old Amitabh Bachchan to resume filming.

"All artists, directors, producers, technicians over the age of 65 years who were barred from entering the sets previously will be allowed to resume work without any disruption," Anil Nagrath, secretary of the Indian Motion Pictures Producers' Association (IMPPA), told AFP.

IMPPA had petitioned the Bombay High Court to strike down the ban, arguing that it was ageist and unfair.

The ruling came just days after Amitabh was discharged from Mumbai's Nanavati Hospital, following a coronavirus diagnosis that saw him spend three weeks in the medical facility.

His actor son Abhishek – who is still in hospital – actress daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai, and granddaughter Aaradhya were all diagnosed with the virus, underscoring the scale of the pandemic's spread in India, where cases crossed two million on Friday.

The government of Maharashtra state, home to Bollywood, has sought to limit infections by banning producers from filming complex dance numbers and fight sequences – which are a staple of popular Hindi cinema.

Social distancing norms will also put a stop to scenes showing actors kissing or embracing, spelling a return to the more conservative 1980s, when Bollywood songs often cut to images of flowers brushing against each other – then a shorthand for romance.

In addition to providing crew members with medical and life insurance, producers will be required to have a doctor, nurse and an ambulance on set – a punishing requirement at a time when Mumbai is already struggling with a shortage of health workers and ambulances. – AFP

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