Exodus of Malayalam filmmakers to neighboring states adds to the industry’s woes

The Film Employees Federation of Kerala (FEFKA) has appealed to the government of Kerala for permission to start film production in the state. The request comes in the wake of several film crews’ exodus to other states as Kerala’s Covid-19 lockdown restrictions prevent filming.

As many as seven Malayalam films, including Bro Daddy by superstar Mohanlal, are reported to be shot in neighboring states. Bro Daddy, directed by Prithviraj Sukumaran, takes to the floor in Telangana on Thursday. Some other films have moved their production to Tamil Nadu.

The FEFKA letter, written by the association’s general secretary and director, B Unnikrishnan, pointed out that the loss of work to neighboring states will further exacerbate the misery of the day laborers. The letter to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan also referred to all the association’s aid efforts. FEFKA has claimed that it has raised more than Rs 2 crore to provide financial aid to its members. The outreach also included free Covid-19 vaccination and treatment for those infected with the virus.

Unnikrishnan said the association is also planning several other initiatives to further help those who suffered from lack of work during the second wave of coronavirus. “However, a labor organization like this cannot raise funds for a longer period of time,” the letter reads.

The association also questioned the rationale behind allowing the production of television programs and serials, but denying permission for film shooting. The letter requests the Kerala CM to get the film industry back to work with the Covid-19 safety measures in place.

The Kerala government appears to be very cautious about opening up the state as the number of Covid-19 cases still appears to be on the rise. Under the current circumstances, the government may not allow the reopening of cinemas in the short term. And it is likely to disrupt the release plans of major Malayalam movies, which are waiting to hit theaters in August.

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