The inside story

Updated: Jul 10, 2020, 09:06 IST | Sukanya Datta | Mumbai

A new podcast by a voice-over artiste and a development sector professional brings alive the experiences of people in lockdown from across the globe

Shagun Trisal recorded his bit in Mumbai
Shagun Trisal recorded his bit in Mumbai

During this pandemic, our cocoon of perfectly crafted schedules, routines and plans has given way to uncertainty and insecurities, although not without a sprinkling of hope, and this desire to make lemonade." This introduction by Shagun Trisal, a Mumbai-based voice-over artiste, at the beginning of each episode of Letters From The Lockdown — a podcast he has created with his friend Udita Chaturvedi — sums up what we've all been feeling cooped up at home, isn't it? Bored of dwindling work prospects, Trisal was bouncing off project ideas, where he could focus on his voice, when Chaturvedi suggested a podcast.

 While Udita Chaturvedi produced the show in Lucknow,
Udita Chaturvedi produced the show in Lucknow

"As a former journalist, I have always been interested in documenting people in their personal spaces. So, while thinking of content for the podcast, we thought, 'Why not ask people to send us letters of their experiences in the lockdown?'" shares Chaturvedi, a development sector professional, adding that they then put out a form, asking people to fill out details such as where they are, what they do and their lockdown story. While they didn't have high hopes, the duo ended up getting over 100 responses or letters from the all over the world.

Now in its seventh episode, the podcast features Trisal as the narrator, who stitches three stories — voiced by other voice-over artistes — together in each session, with anecdotes from other letter-writers, and finally, an original soundtrack released during the lockdown. The stories are varied, ranging from the experience of a Lucknow-based mother of three about how her family is learning to bond, to a New Yorker struggling with the virus in her bedroom for eight weeks, and an anonymous ice-cream lover sharing why she embraced the lack of human interaction.

Musician Khalid Ahamed
Musician Khalid Ahamed

"When you ask someone how they've been doing, they tell you, 'Chal raha hain,' but never tell you kaise chal raha hain. The idea was to bring alive that part of the process," explains Trisal. We understand what he means when we tune into a young paediatrician speaking about her worries over India's healthcare system that runs on the rhetoric of 'lekin kya kar sakte hain?', or the motivating tale of a 22-year-old from Delhi who joined relief work and his father's apology letter to the migrants for the sorry state of affairs.

There are also guest writers such as Danish Husain, Devika Narain, Maalavika Manoj or Mali, among others, whose stories are featured in every episode. "Since the pandemic has been an equaliser, we can all learn from each other's situations, be it a celebrity or the common man. For instance, we've seen people trying to be super productive, and that can lead to a fear of missing out. So, when Kashmiri musician Khalid Ahamed, of the band Parvaaz, spoke of how he was creatively paralysed, I feel a lot of people connected with him," reveals Trisal, who's been monitoring the sound aspect, while Chaturvedi has been managing the content.

wedding designer Devika
Wedding designer Devika Narain 

The podcast is a work of collaboration, with the different voice-over artistes recording their parts across locations, Chaturvedi writing the script in Lucknow, and the sound engineer Payal Rathod weaving it together in New York. "We ended up learning a lot from each other, and from the stories," they sum up in unison. If you think it might be cathartic to hear how someone is trying to make sense of these strange times, give this podcast a shot.

Log on to @lettersfromthelockdown on Instagram

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