For once, Neil Bhatt is in Goa, and he is not enjoying on the beach. The shooting of his popular Star Plus show Ghum Hai Kisikey Pyaar Meiin has been temporarily relocated to this former Portuguese colony in the wake of COVID-19 induced lockdown in Mumbai.
"We have taken all precautions, not wanting to trigger an outbreak in Goa coming from a high-risk zone. In a bid to alleviate local fears, the cast and crew underwent the RT-PCR testing before boarding the flight, although there is no order from Panjim for the same," he said and further added, "We have restricted ourselves to our hotel (exclusively booked for us) and set, period. We don't go gallivanting around as tourists usually do in this mecca of surf and sand. As a responsible company Star India is going the distance to ensure COVID free shoot environs."
"We have slashed the crew to a bare minimum to reduce risk while the cast compliment remains the same. The unit always wears masks while we too cover up when our scenes are not there or do a reading session," added the actor.
What about your Goan fans, who must be happy to have you in their midst? "Well, we have told them to greet us or click pictures from a distance. Why is there a need for physical proximity?"
"We hope things don't take a turn for the worse here, allowing us to continue to entertain our fans, and soon hope that Mumbai turns a page so we all can return home. Precaution is always better than cure, and currently, things are pretty dicey with the unpredictable new double mutant. I am thankful to the Prime Minister for opening up vaccinations for 18 and above. This way, the youth can get some protection. Yet no one should lower their guard."
Neil, who has been in the TV industry since 2008 (Has done shows like 12/24 Karol Bagh, Gulaal and Diya Aur Baati Hum), accepted that COVID has thrown a massive challenge at the entire industry.
"Budgets are down across the board; even I have taken a pay cut. However, I see the glass half full at a time when several of my compatriots are sitting at home. I am doing something that I love. Being a true artist, I never look at money but the role on offer."
While concluding, he said that he does not think going to Goa will further cement his relationship with his co-star Ayesha Singh (stuck in the hotel), "Even in Mumbai post-shoot, either she is at my pad, or I am at her place."