We Shall Rise, Says Filmmaker Bharat Bala
On June 06, days ahead of the phased lifting of the nationwide lockdown, celebrated filmmaker Bharat Bala is set to air his documentary, Meendum Ezhuvom on the historic lockdown.
It is titled Uthenge Hum, in Hindi and will be aired on all television channels and digital platforms.
#neverforget, the hashtag of the teaser, sums up Bharat Bala's mission in a nutshell.
"As we move ahead from this period of lockdown, India will slowly get back to life and go forth into an uncertain future. But we must remember this time and our collective human experience in the face of the historical time. We must never forget," says Bala.
He has captured not just the stillness of the vast nation, but also the spirit, the power and the sound of silence, when its 1.3 billion people stayed behind locked doors, from March 24.
While most of us have limited ourselves to daily updates on social media during lockdown, Bharat Bala's documentary showcases the empty public spaces across the country, from Kashmir to Kerala, Gujarat to Assam.
Harnessing a team of 117 and 15 film crews, Bharat Bala helmed this path-breaking project from Mumbai, while the crew members, many of whom were already spread across the nation, shared their inputs via WhatsApp and other social and multimedia tools.
The celebrated filmmaker who helped a new gen re-imagine and reconnect with Vande Mataram and Jana Gana Mana, among others, has embarked on this project in order to leave lasting real life impressions on reel.
Kollywood fans will recall Bharat Bala's name with relish, as he had directed Maryan, starring Dhanush, and the film received positive reviews.
His name became a familiar one in international film circuits after the release of Hari Om, his feature film in English.
Bala has left his mark not only in feature films but also in the field of advertising and is a familiar name down south.
He is the first filmmaker to embark on capturing the silent, empty country, post the lockdown.
Bala put together the documentary from a 'command office' in Mumbai.
How did he manage to pull off such a humongous task, of capturing the still, empty, quietude of our country?
"The crew filmed the lockdown across 14 states, covering thousands of kilometres, to document this watershed moment of global history. The film spans the extents of the country, from Kashmir to Kerala, Gujarat to Assam," said Bala, in a statement.
The situations the crews encountered and filmed are mesmerizing. The human story that has unfolded through their camera journeys and deeply moving visuals, is one that has echoed across demographics, he adds.
The documentary will highlight not only the overwhelming stillness, but also the desolation. "But underlying this desolation is that sliver of hope, the spirit of Meendum Ezhuvom - a tribute to this nation of vastness, of power and presence, and of scale. The thread of resilience of a country that must move again," he adds.
It is this spirit of resilience, where health workers braved all odds, forsook family time and worked hard to ensure that the sick were tended to.
Bala also draws attention to how the suburban trains - the single largest popular mode of commute for lakhs of people every day, in cities like Mumbai - left a telling mark on the potency of the virus and the need to stay safe.
Bala's project will leave a historic imprint for generations to come, when the virus spread unbridled even as scientists raced to understand its mutations and find a vaccine.
The four-minute documentary will also be made available on YouTube for those who miss watching it for free, in the week starting June 06.