For TV, Corona is a serial killer

With restrictions on shooting, locations and strict distancing and hygiene protocols in place, soap operas will never be the same again

The coronavirus is a buzzkill. It has not only disrupted lives but it has also killed the romance in TV serial scripts.

Picture this. A scene from the highly popular TV serial Jothe Jotheyali is about to be shot. It’s high on emotions, tears, violins, long and longing. Anu (the heroine) has been separated from her love interest, Aryavardhan (the hero). In pre-Covid days, the drama and the tension would have been stretched to the limit until the couple finally manages a UA-approved embrace.

But in post-Covid days, the script has been improvised to accommodate social distancing. “We had to rework the scene with the same intensity, but we had to turn it into a conversation over the phone to adhere to the new norms of social distancing,” says Aniruddha Jatkar, who plays the role of the lead character, Aryavardhan.

Jatkar who is the son-in-law of the late film star Vishnuvardhan, continues, “Our serial has a high TRP rating and our audience relates to it very deeply.

We have had to incorporate the Covid-19 lockdown into the script. Anu, the female lead, was supposed to go to her mother’s house in Kamalamana

Vattara, but due to the lockdown, she was forced to stay at her aunt’s house. We had to make this change in the script because the location, where we have based her mother’s house, was not available for shooting as the owner was sceptical over allowing us to shoot there as soon as the lockdown was relaxed.”

The serial has also written some socially relevant messages into the script that are relevant to the Covid crisis, says Jatkar.


“We have also taken elaborate precautionary measures to ensure our staff and artistes are safe on the sets,” add Jatkar Kailash Malavalli, director of another television serial ‘Sevanthi’ told BM that they have had to write extra plots so that their audience could connect with the storyline which abruptly ended when the lockdown was announced and shooting stopped. “We are doing around five special episodes with Priyanka Upendra, who makes a guest appearance with a new thread inside the main storyline.”

Shooting in post-Covid times also means that a lot of the acting has to be done keeping physical distance between actors on the set and this has had its effect on the story line too. “It’s a challenge for us to portray certain intimate scenes without the lead actors in close proximity. Whether it is a romance, or a fight, or anything that involves physical contact, it has to be written differently,” says Kailash.


The serial Sevanthi, is about an orphan, who wishes to have her own family but destiny has other plans. She is forced to get into a contractual marriage agreement with a lawyer and her trials and tribulations become the narrative of the highly popular TV serial.

It’s a challenge for us to portray certain intimate scenes without the lead actors in close proximity. Whether it is a romance, or a fight, or anything that involves physical contact, it has to be written differently

– Kailash Malavalli, director of ‘Sevanthi’

It has crossed over 400 episodes and has garnered a big following over the last 18 months. After the lockdown, all scenes have been shot indoors – at home. Other scenes to be slated for offices, hospitals, temples, roads, parks etc have been re-written and moved indoors, said Kailash.

“Besides this, all precautionary measures are followed on the set — right from the time we start shooting after the morning puja till pack-up, our spot boys, light boys, camera crew, directors, everyone is in masks, except artistes when in front of the camera. They all frequently use sanitisers too and our sets are regularly sanitised before and after shoots,” Kailash added.

In another serial – Nammamane Yuvarani, an already scripted scene of a grand wedding was cut short into a low-key affair due to lockdown effect. The manager of the sets, Parameshwar Sangram told BM that among 100 serials that were in production before lockdown, around 40 have been cancelled.

“Earlier we re-made and re-shot serials in other languages, but now after lockdown was relaxed, these serials will be only dubbed into Kannada from other languages,” Parameshwar said.

The virus is a serial killer.

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Sagar Biswas

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