Sets for Ravi Chopra's Banda Hai Bindaas were gutted in a major fire that broke out at the Film City studio here early Saturday.
The losses caused by the fire, which erupted at around 3 a.m., are estimated to run into several millions of rupees as the sets were being erected for a long spell of shooting. Besides, delay in restarting the shooting will also add to the costs. The sets, however, were insured.
Managing director of the studio S.K. Patil denied lack of safety measures had caused the inferno.
"The police investigations are on. At this stage, I cannot say for sure what caused the fire. All I can say for now is that it was an accident," Patil told IANS.
Patil added while the management of the state-run Film City takes all precautions to avoid mishaps like fire in the complex, "it is not our responsibility to protect the shooting property of the production units operating on the 19 studios here".
When contacted, Ravi Chopra said it was an "unfortunate incident". The producer-director of the film had a meeting with the police on the matter Saturday afternoon.
After hiring out the studio floors in the complex to the production units, the management leaves it to the producers to ensure safety of the sets, the people and their shooting property.
Apparently, a lot of building materials were lying around, including paints and other flammable materials. The lights were still being installed.
Nobody was present at the site when the fire broke out. A security guard summoned the city fire brigade.
Fires are common during movie shootings. Generally, electrical short circuits are believed to cause them.
With studios in Mumbai gradually closing down, films and television programme shoots mostly take place in private bungalows in the city.
Small single-floor makeshift studios, some of them illegal, have also cropped up in different parts of the city to cash in on the increasing demand for shooting sites. Some are located in congested areas and are high-risk potential firetraps.
Owners of many such shooting sites ignore even mandatory safety norms. "They only keep small portable fire extinguishers in the name of fire safety," said a prominent director who did not wish to be identified.
The Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE), the apex body of the cine-TV artistes and other employees, is perturbed by the growing incidents of fires at shooting sites.
FWICE president Dharmesh Tiwari said they have been pleading with the Mumbai Fire Brigade to ensure that producers adopt all required fire safety measures during shootings.
Mumbai's Chief Fire Officer A.B. Sawant said no producer takes the mandatory no-objection certificate from the fire department before erecting sets.
"There have been many fires breaking out in Film City in the past couple of years. We recommend action against the concerned producers flouting fire norms," Sawant said.