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Home / Entertainment / Six actors on how they learnt to adapt to the new normal and what’s the way forward

Six actors on how they learnt to adapt to the new normal and what’s the way forward

The shooting of Bengali serials resumed on June 11 in the first phase of unlocking
Swastika Dutta

Arindam Chatterjee   |     |   Published 09.07.20, 08:28 PM

Swastika Dutta
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Shooting for: Ki Kore Bolbo Tomay

How would you sum up the experience so far?

We are all sticking to a schedule, following protocols and maintaining safety measures. I am really passionate about my work and I am being very careful. I have my parents at home, and I am concerned also since I am stepping out of the house every day. On the sets, things are really professional. But sometimes those spontaneous bursts of joie de vivre and excitement are missing, which used to happen on the sets pre-Covid. People are really serious and keeping to themselves.    

What are the lessons learnt?

That I have to go on doing my bit no matter what the situation. I have to give my best even if I’m giving a solo shot or a shot featuring two people... to sum up, an actor’s life has to go on. We are entertainers and I feel proud that I take the risk to come out of my house and work for my viewers even in this pandemic.

Do you still get anxious now when moving around the sets or removing the mask?

Well to be very honest, once I am done with my make-up, hair and everything, and I become Radhika and step on to the shooting floor, the pandemic doesn’t cross my mind at that moment. Initially, I would wear a mask constantly after doing my make-up but now I am aware and careful.

How safe do you feel on the sets?

I feel safe, pampered, secured and taken care of. All safety measures are being taken and protocols followed with great care and attention and the rest depends
on us.

What’s the most challenging part of the shoot for you?

To perform while maintaining social distance. We are all very, very focused now.

Have you had an OMG moment?

Ayanda (Sengupta), the director, is a teacher to me. We had not met for many days. On the first day of shoot post-lockdown I remember Ayanda — on seeing me — was about to hug me but he stopped himself, greeted me and then said, ‘Oh, the social distancing norms.’ So this was a very cute moment.  

Krushal Ahuja

Shooting for: Ki Kore Bolbo Tomay

How would you sum up the experience so far?

It’s been refreshing! I had faced the camera after 85 days and I was literally counting days and waiting to get back.      

What are the lessons learnt?

It was all about learning to adapt to the new normal and performing while maintaining a distance.
 
Is there anything you would like to see change about the shooting procedure now?

I am happy with the way our team is working in this critical situation and I think we are doing the best possible and the changes can only be brought if the situation is normal again. Just one little change — people should smile more and be happy from within, which I think is lost somewhere in this pandemic situation.

Do you still get anxious now when moving around the sets or removing the mask?

No. Now the panic is less and people know the new normal. We follow all the guidelines strictly.

What’s the most challenging part of the shoot for you?

Everything is going on as usual but the most challenging part is to complete a scene by maintaining social distancing. Specially ours is a love story (Ki Kore Bolbo Tomay) and it is difficult to limit the scene because of the present scenario but still we are trying to meet our audiences’ expectations.

Have you had an OMG moment on set?

My director and I share a very understanding relation and we laugh and crack jokes in between the scenes or after the scene is over. So there are times, after cracking a joke or saying something very funny, we want to give a high five to each other or maybe a hug but then we realise the new normal and social distancing and we do an air high five! Hahaha!
 

Madhurima Basak

Shooting for: Sreemoyee and Mohor

How would you sum up the experience so far?

It has been different to say the least. Not the usual relaxed atmosphere it used to be. Lesser number of people are multitasking to compensate for the smaller crew. Trying to be organic in the performance yet remembering safety protocols and distancing at the back of the mind is a difficult task. But nothing compares to the feeling of being on a set again after such a long wait. It has been more of an unlearning experience.

What are the lessons learnt?

That life goes on... and this too shall pass. When there were fewer cases, we sat at home and now with the spike in Covid-19 positive cases, we have no option but to get out to work practically every day. Survival is a bigger instinct than fear. What I have also realised is that remaining positive and not spreading negativity goes a long way in solving things and containing fear.

Is there anything you would like to see change about the shooting procedure now?

Reduced working hours might help. Pick up and drop facilities for all unit members in designated sanitised vehicles will help contain exposure for all. Schedules need to be flexible and lenient to incorporate absenteeism on account of illness even if it is a minor fever or cold and cough.

Do you still get anxious now when moving around the sets or removing the mask?

The fear of exposure to the virus is always there but safety is in our own hands. I try to make sure to wear my mask unless I’m facing the camera or having my food. And apart from being in the scene or using the washroom I am generally seated in my place. I restrict my movements and interactions to bare minimum nowadays.

How safe do you feel on the sets?

I feel safer than going to the supermarket or taking transportation to work. The hygiene and safety standards are being maintained properly and I can always point out or get a certain thing corrected on the sets if I feel it is diluting the safety standards. In other places though, like I mentioned above, I have no control.

Are all safety measures being followed on set?

The crew and cast are maintaining distancing norms. All unit members including make-up artists and technicians wear protective gears like masks, face shields and gloves and remove them only when extremely necessary. Sets are being sanitised with industrial sprayers regularly after shooting each scene. There is a five-minute hand-wash break for all cast and crew members every hour. Thermal scanning for temperature check is done at the entry to the studio and shooting floor. Bags and shoes are sprayed with disinfectant while entering the shooting area. So a lot is being done to maintain safety protocols and hygiene standards. That is what all organisations do I guess. Beyond that it is but fate.

What’s the most challenging part of the shoot for you?

To unlearn the earlier practices of being in a set where we would sit close and chat, pat someone’s back or share food or even the customary hugs to meet and greet. It is more of being on your own, a lot more distant approach on the sets and very unlike our tele culture. But then it’s all for a good cause and concern for self as well as others.

Have you had an OMG moment?

There have been moments when someone would sneeze or cough and the entire crew would get apprehensive and look at the one who coughed with doubt. It was considered a normal thing before corona days but now the fear being inherent, people are bound to be sceptical and less trusting. Thankfully, I haven’t had any such close encounters personally.

Indrajit Chakravarty

Shot for: Nokshi Kantha
How would you sum up the experience so far?

It was all about being very careful about oneself and others, and adapting to the new norms on the sets. It was entirely a unique experience, walking around in PPEs and masks as if we were on a different planet.

What are the lessons learnt?

Human touch is very, very important , it’s kind of like therapy. It’s natural. And that is what is missing from our lives. Other than that I would say please be aware, be careful but don’t be paranoid!

Is there anything you would like to see change about the shooting procedure now?

I would prefer more outdoor shoots rather than being inside. That’s more safe, for that matter. Otherwise, everything else is taken care of.

Do you still get anxious now when moving around the sets or removing the mask?

Yes, I do get anxious, especially seeing the number of Covid-19 cases surge every day.

How safe do you feel on the sets?

All safety measures are followed on the sets strictly, hence it’s more or less safe! But again you never know. However, some individuals let it loose at times.

What’s the most challenging part of the shoot for you?

The most challenging part is maintaining the physical distance of six feet among the actors. And that actors cannot wear masks during a shot! Yes, the other unit members have their masks on but we are somewhat vulnerable. Handling of costumes also is a big challenge and I am sure the costume department is carefully handling it to ensure clothes and shoes are washed and sanitised well. And it’s best not to share make-up; have your own personal set.

Have you had an OMG moment?

Hahaha! Many times it happened with co-actors getting real close accidentally! Old habits die hard but we have been very careful all through.

Roosha Chatterjee

Shooting for: Sreemoyee and Mahapeeth Tarapeeth

How would you sum up the experience so far?

The best thing was that I was back at the shoot, reunited with my family. The flow of work has been a lot smoother and people are very conscious.

What are the lessons learnt?

The biggest lesson I have learnt is to make sure that I am safe and alert so that people around me are safe. And I have to be safe for my family back home to be safe.

Is there anything you would like to see change about the shooting procedure now?

Everyone already is so cooperative and conscious and taking every initiative to be safe and sound that I don’t think I want to change anything.

Do you still get anxious now when moving around the sets or removing the mask?

No, not at all. Everyone on set is very alert. They all understand that the artistes are not in protective gear (during a shot), so they make sure artistes feel comfortable.

Are all safety measures being followed?

Yes, as far as I have seen, from checking temperature before entering the studio or the set to sanitising the rooms and clothes. Everyone is maintaining their distance.

What’s the most challenging part of the shoot for you?

To remember to keep social distance while acting. During the scene we get so engrossed in it that we forget to keep distance but the director is there to guide us.

Have you had an OMG moment?

I don’t think I have had an OMG moment but I am sure few people around me have had OMG moments! Without realising I may have gone a bit close to someone (in the beginning). Initially that was a problem but now I think we have become used to this new normal.

Ushasie Chakraborty

Shooting for: Sreemoyee

How would you sum up the experience so far?

It is not very usual. We are adapting to the new normal. Sanitisers almost pour on us like rain when we enter or move around the sets. The script that we read from is being sanitised. Everything is being sanitised over and over again. We are also washing our hands, using sanitisers. Our movement is limited. My character (June in Sreemoyee) is very hyper and I would often confront a person and get close, in the pre-Covid days. That has stopped. I am accommodating these changes in my acting now.  

Do you still get anxious now when moving around the sets or removing the mask?

Not really, it’s okay... I will deal with it. My philosophy in life is Que Sera, Sera (whatever will be, will be). I have taken the decision to shoot, so I don’t think about it so much.

How safe do you feel on the sets?

I feel very safe, everyone is being very careful and cautious. All the safety measures are being followed on our set.

What’s the most challenging part of the shoot for you?

Not being able to do the physical acting... where we move around, get close, move our hands... that has stopped. I get into verbal battles a lot in the serial. I really like doing that. So I am adapting to the new norms. We are focusing on giving dialogues in close-ups. As an actor I am also learning.

Have you had an OMG moment?

Yes! When you meet someone after many days there is a tendency to shake hands or give a hug. But we are not doing it now. We are immediately reminding ourselves of the distancing norms. We are doing air hugs and handshakes!



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