Anand Pandit on the challenges of shooting films during the second wave of pandemic

Anand Pandit, film producer


Anand Pandit is the man behind films like Total Dhamaal (2019), Missing (2018) and Sarkar 3 (2018). His latest, The Big Bull, starring Abhishek Bachchan, was the top OTT original of the week, with over 5.8 million streams. Upcoming releases include Chehre, starring Amitabh Bachchan, Emraan Hashmi and Rhea Chakraborty, and Thank God, starring Sidharth Malhotra and Rakul Preet Singh.

Q\ Why did you want a big-screen release for Chehre and an OTT release for The Big Bull?

A\The pandemic changed the way we think about cinema. At some point, the priority was to make the most of the circumstances at hand rather than wait for perfect conditions. We also had to consider which film’s content could get dated faster and which could wait out the delay that the lockdown and subsequent restrictions had created last year. Also, The Big Bull is more of a character study rather than a visual extravaganza. Its storytelling style suited the OTT format and its success has proven us right. Chehre is shot like a big-screen entertainer in locations that take your breath away and we hoped to give the viewers a chance to experience it in theatres.

Q\ Can you describe the challenges of shooting amidst the second wave of the pandemic?

A\We were very careful during the first wave and we are being careful now and only doing what can be done without putting everyone’s health at risk. Whatever can be done remotely is being done remotely, but we also need to generate hope and employment opportunities for the crew members, whose livelihood depends on the industry going back to work. So, even if it is the bare minimum, it is important that we do it. The number of people in a room, on sets, social distancing, screening, and safety protocols are all being monitored closely. We cannot afford to be careless during this time.

Q\ According to you, what is the recipe for a successful movie?

A\That it should entertain and make the viewers feel that their time and energy were not wasted. Nobody can guarantee a super-hit or a classic every time, but everyone can make a film with the intention of giving the viewers a good time.

Q\ How will the content and filmmaking styles of films change with the increasing prominence of OTT platforms?

A\We will now see more edgy and unconventional themes. We are already seeing the arrival of actors who do not need the big screen to be successful. We will have to adapt to the fact that the viewers want stories and characters that are fresh and unpredictable.