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Sandalwood in deep trouble, demands for special package

Sanjay Dutt
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Sanjay Dutt

Highlights

The coronavirus pandemic has made the many lives in risk, halting film production and closing cinemas

Bengaluru: The coronavirus pandemic has made the many lives in risk, halting film production and closing cinemas. Now, the state government has given permission to start shootings but while following certain restrictions and guidelines.

In recent days Sandalwood actors, directors and producers had met at Shivrajkumar residence and have decided to approach Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa to seek a relief package in the wake of COVID-19 crisis for the film industry. Later it was postponed fur to BS Yediyurappa infected with COVID.

"COVID-19 has upended the Sandalwood film industry, halting film production and closing cinemas. The entire film industry is waiting for the good days and normality should resume; production has restarted with films with minimum numbers also adopted remote-work protocols where possible.

Our request is to allow the production unite to work with full workers. Because shooting the film with a number of 50 workers is highly impossible" says Umesh Banakar the vice-president of Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC).

Currently, the Kannada film industry is facing the biggest challenge is reopening the movie theatre. The lockdown effect has continued for 5 months and the theatres still remain closed. Also reopening the theatres is creating a lot of confusion among the industry.

Because central is about to recommend that cinema halls may be allowed to reopen all over India as early as August 1 or at the latest, around August 31 with the formula of alternate seats in the first row and then the next row be kept vacant and proceeding in this formate throughout.

"The formula is unwise and merely running films at 25 per cent auditorium capacity is worse than keeping the cinemas shut. But still, it's just talking and doesn't know what central will come up with.

We are planning to take up this issue with the state first because we theatres owners have asked to pay the minimum charges of electricity bill which will be in lakhs. So theatre issue along with a special package for the film workers who are 3000 plus in the number" Umesh Banakar added.

Now, many big-budget movies like 'Yuvarathnaa', 'Roberrt' and others which had been suspended because of the lockdown will start shooting soon by following guidelines. The government has pointed out 18 guidelines to start shooting and allowed only 50 members on the set of shootings at a time, which will be relaxed in future.

With the Karnataka government stepping in and announcing that a Kannada Cinema Promotion Board would be constituted, the coming months will see a lot of action, one assumes to bring the movie industry back on rails.

There have been discussions about the release date of KGF 2, the much expected three-language film in which Sanjay Dutt is playing the antagonist. With Dutt likely to be away to the US to take care of his personal health issues, it is being whispered that one fight sequence is pending which will delay the film release from its original date of October 23.

The Karnataka High Court had recently dismissed a petition seeking to restrict Sanjay Dutt from acting in the upcoming Kannada film KGF: Chapter 2. The petitioner had sought to restrain the actor due to his conviction in the Mumbai bomb blast case.

Chief Justice Abhay Oka, responding to the petition, asked, "Which law says that a person who is convicted under an offence and has undergone sentence is prohibited from acting in a film?," while dismissing the petition.

Sanjay Dutt, who was convicted in the 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blasts case, was sentenced to six years in prison. He surrendered to serve his prison sentence in 2013 but he was released in 2016.

Meanshile, Deputy Chief Minister C N Ashwath Narayan has announced that a meeting is scheduled with the Yediyurappa next week who has shown enough interest to support the industry.

For his part, Shiva Rajkumar also has said that the film industry is resilient enough to handle its problems on its own without worrying about the OTT platforms which have started screening original Kannada films on their platform from the last few weeks.

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