Flights of safety

Deccan Chronicle.  | S. Ramachandra

Entertainment, Bollywood

Film units are chartering aircraft to travel safely

Bellbottom film crew travelled to Scotland and back for the shoot in a charted flight

Chartered flights are becoming the norm, as far as Bollywood is concerned. Starting the trend, the entire unit of the Akshay Kumar – Vaani Kapoor starrer Bellbottom chartered flights to travel to Scotland and back for the shoot. All safety protocols necessitated by the pandemic were in place.

Following the pattern, Akshay Kumar’s former girlfriend Shilpa Shetty and her co-stars on Hungama 2 also decided to take a chartered flight for the shoot of the Priyadarshan film. Shilpa travelled along with Paresh Rawal, Meezan Jaafery and Pranitha Subhash to Manali. It may be recalled that the Hungama 2 team had filmed a part of the movie earlier.

“The next lot to use a charter service was the team of Bhoot Police. The unit left recently for the shoot scheduled to start at Dalhousie, before moving on to other towns in Himachal Pradesh. Saif Ali Khan, Arjun Kapoor, Yami Gautam and Jacqueline Fernandez top-line the cast of the film. The team is expected to wrap up the shooting in 45 days and return by another chartered flight,” say sources.

Deepika Padukone too has been using a chartered aircraft for her Shakun Batra film shoot in Goa. “Deepika also had to jet to and fro for the Narcotics Control Bureau enquiry which came up following the Sushant Singh Rajput case. The Goa-Mumbai distance is not much and it is easier and not very expensive to charter a flight,” add the sources.

But the cost of these chartered flights have pushed up the cost of the films. “It will make a difference for small films because it will eat up a significant amount of the budget. But for the big budget movies, it is not only better to shoot quickly and safely, but also to travel safely, keeping the health of the big stars in mind. A star who is sick and in bed is of no use to a film producer and will only entail losses for the makers,” says Atul Mohan, editor, Complete Cinema.

Stars from other regions are also following the trend. Tollywood star Nagarjuna took a charter to Himachal Pradesh for the shooting of his film Wild Dog.

Many Bollywood stars are also using chartered flights for their personal travel, and even plane pooling. Sanjay Dutt and Sonu Niigam pooled a chartered flight when they travelled to Dubai together recently. Many Bollywood stars, including Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn, Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and Shilpa Shetty, are often seen travelling by chartered flights for many of their dos. “It is a good idea for people to pool not just financial resources, but also to save aircraft fuel if they can travel together safely. Different sets of people are travelling together while others take smaller charters. Vaani Kapoor did not leave with the Bellbottom team, but came back with the unit. On the other hand, Kareena Kapoor went to Delhi for the Laal Singh Chaddha shoot with her family, and returned after her work was over, while others continued shooting there,” points out film writer and historian Imtiaz Baaghdadi.