With Kolkata’s studios set to open, an actor reflects on the lockdown

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“I can afford being without work for maybe another six months, not longer, but what about my hairdresser?” asked actor Paromita Mukherjee, who last reported on the sets — to shoot for a TV serial and also a Bengali film — on March 17.

She was in the studios throughout the night and worked till 5 a.m. on March 18, when the entertainment industry in West Bengal shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On Wednesday, shooting is expected to resume for TV serials and that should come as a big relief to industry professionals who have remained without income for more than three months now.

“The moment I finish this call with you, I am going to transfer some money into the account of my hairdresser. Her home was damaged in the cyclone, she desperately needs money,” Ms. Mukherjee said.

“I don’t think there are more than five or six people in the entertainment industry in Bengal who can afford to be without work for prolonged periods. The rest are all daily wagers. Entertainment is an unorganised sector and as it is we live in uncertainty. The lockdown has only heightened the uncertainty and everybody — right from actors to technicians — has suffered,” she said.

If shooting resumes on Wednesday, crews would have to follow dos and don’ts: only 35 members of an unit can be present in a studio, child actors below the age of 10 are not allowed, and actors above the age of 60 would have to sign a declaration that they are reporting for work at their own risk.

“I can’t wait to return to work (for the serial she was shooting, titled Joy Baba Lokenath). My production house has told me we will be shooting from tomorrow but I have not been given a reporting time yet, so I can’t be sure,” said Ms. Mukherjee, who used the lockdown period to take acting classes on Zoom because “acting is a skill that needs to be honed constantly”.

“I read books on acting during this period. I cooked, I did household chores. But there were depressing moments … during such moments I would watch movies. Sometimes it would be a Govinda film, sometimes films like The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. In all I watched about 70 films during the lockdown,” Ms. Mukherjee added.



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