Akshay Kumar starrer Bellbottom was the first to start shooting during the Covid-19 pandemic. Directed by Ranjit M Tewari, the spy thriller was being shot extensively in Scotland. The producers Jackky Bhagnani and Deepshikha Deshmukh ensured that the cast and crew felt totally safe on and off the sets.
Shooting in the thick of a global pandemic sounds daunting but Lara Dutta recounts how the challenges during this unusual time were dealt with professionalism and personal attention.
Initially, it was normal to feel a little anxious considering that Covid-19 cases are rising rapidly in India. But I felt immediate reassurance and confidence when I saw the many protocols in place and how correctly things were being handled. Ours was the first film to be shot after the lockdown but despite the nervousness, we were all eager to get back to work. We were all taken in a chartered flight to Scotland to retain and contain the safety bubble. On landing, we were tested again and sent into a two-week quarantine. It did not however feel that we were imprisoned as we had the company of each other. Akshay and Deepshikha had brought their kids and so had I. It was like being with an extended family and since all of us had tested negative, we spent time with each other and kept the circle tight and safe for each other and especially the children. So this gave me a sense of security.
About the thrill of returning to work, she said:
“When the shooting finally began, I was the first actor on the sets. To be part of the first film to be shot after the lockdown felt hugely gratifying. I felt grateful to be on a set where every single precaution possible was being taken, sanitisation was meticulous and the cast and crew were checked every day. Everything was secure, right from the food delivery on sets to the drivers who took us to and fro. Yes, we had to remove our masks during scenes but because we felt safe in a strictly regulated environment, we just wanted to do our job to the best of our abilities.
Bellbottom has become the first film to start and complete shooting during the pandemic.