(Pic courtesy: Instagram)
Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar on Thursday said his latest film "India Lockdown" aims to make the younger generation aware of the tough times faced by people during the early days of the first COVID-19-induced lockdown in the country. Inspired by true events, the 2020-set film will narrate four stories and how life comes to a halt after the lockdown is suddenly announced amid rising cases.
"We did a lot of research. There were so many stories but we thought of bringing out four stories. We dwelled into the life of a sex worker, a migrant worker couple, a pilot, and an elderly man.
"It was necessary to bring all these aspects and document it for the next generation. This is not an anthology, all stories are connected," Bhandarkar told reporters here at the trailer launch of "India Lockdown" in Mumbai. Known for films like "Chandni Bar", "Page 3", and "Fashion", the director said of the many heart-wrenching stories the team chose to dig deep into the lives of people belonging to different socioeconomic backgrounds.
"We felt the urge to put a lot of things in. But we had to filter it to make it precise. We have shown the personal journey and struggles of these people. There is nothing sensational in this film," he added.
Actor Shweta Basu Prasad, who plays a commercial sex worker in the film, said her long-cherished dream of working with Bhandarkar came true with "India Lockdown". She said the director had offered her "Traffic Signal" soon after "Iqbal" but she couldn*t be part of it because of school exams.
"India Lockdown", the actor said, reminds people about the unpredictability of life. "It does not trigger or relive that time period. It is a human story. It*s a reminder of a time when people globally suffered and survived.
"The four stories are a representation of human emotion that we all share globally. It is a reminder life is unpredictable. Anything can happen but let*s not lose human spirit."
For her role, Basu Prasad said she visited the red-light area of Kamathipura in south Mumbai. "For research, we met commercial sex workers and heard their heart-wrenching stories. It helped me pick (the nuances of) the character. I dedicate this performance to sex workers," she said.
Aahana Kumra said it is an honour to don a uniform in "India Lockdown". The "Lipstick Under My Burkha" actor plays a pilot in the film.
"My mother is a DSP (deputy superintendent of police) and she has served the police department for 40 years in Hazratganj Kotwali, Lucknow. My aunts have also been in uniform.
"I have played women in uniform characters throughout my career but I have never played a commercial pilot, so it was interesting," she added. She said "India Lockdown" highlights important topics such as mental health.
"In the film, my character stays alone and away from her family. Loneliness, mental health, and depression are important conversations and it highlights that," Kumra said.
"We all went through a bad time and here we are all back on our feet. So, to keep us grounded and rooted, there should always be something to remind us about the same. For me, India Lockdown is that reminder," added the "Pet Puraan" star.
Produced by Jayantilal Gada of PEN Studios, Bhandarkar Entertainment and Pranav Jain*s PJ Motions Pictures, the film is set for a direct-to-digital release on ZEE5 on December 2. It also stars Prakash Belawadi.