Asia

Court overturns COVID-19 filming ban on Bollywood stars, crew over 65

MUMBAI: 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.

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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.

READ: India COVID-19 cases pass two million: Health Ministry

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

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The ruling came just days after Bachchan 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.

READ: Bollywood star Bachchan discharged after catching coronavirus

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 top 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.

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