Serials like Swanthanam forced to take a break after second wave of COVID-19 forced Kerala to lock down
Online streaming platforms and 4G connectivity may have transformed the way we consume video content, but the evenings in most households are still devoted to the good old television set. And it is the daily serials that continue to attract the largest viewership.
But at least for the next couple of weeks, viewers may not be able to enjoy watching their popular serials. With Kerala locked down till May 16, the shooting of serials has come to a halt.
As a result, the 197th episode of Swanthanam, aired last Friday on Asianet, will be the last one for a while. Its producer, M. Ranjith, says there was no other option.
“Swanthanam is aired six days a week, so naturally the lockdwon has affected it,” he says. “We had announced that there would be a break in the serial. The viewers are disappointed and they have been calling me up to ask when Swanthanam would be back on air. In these depressing times, the serials, and other entertainment shows on TV, are a relief, especially for the elderly.”
It is not just the daily soaps that are affected. The popular weekly comedy series on Mazhavil Manorama, Marimayam, has episodes that will last till the end of the month.
“If the lockdown continues, Marimayam too may be forced to take a break,” says the show’s director Midhun Chettoor. “The last lockdown had badly affected all the TV shows and all the people associated with them.”
Ranjith agrees. “The lockdown was a huge strain financially for the channels, actors and the production crew,” he says. “After the lockdown was lifted, we resumed shooting, in strict accordance with the COVID-19 guidelines. We used to test our artistes and crew regularly before the shoot began. It was very expensive though, as each RT-PCR test costs more than ₹2,000 at that time.”
He is hopeful that the lockdown would be eased within a couple of weeks. “I don’t think the State cannot afford a long period of lockdown,” he says. “And I am sure that we shoot television shows adhering to the COVID-19 protocol.”
Till then, the serial viewers will have to do with watching old episodes or other shows, such as reruns of movies.