Documentary Film ‘Lords of Lockdown’ Captures the Aftermath of the Pandemic
Lords of Lockdown is directed by Mihir Fadnavis and produced by Anurag Kashyap & Navin Shetty.
In March 2020, the whole country came to a standstill. COVID-19 had been declared a pandemic and fear gripped India. A nationwide lockdown was announced, and there was utter chaos everywhere. Ruben Mascarenhas, a resident of Mumbai, along with a group of volunteers started distributing food to people, mostly migrant workers on their way back home, along Mumbai’s Western Express Highway. With trains shut and no work coming, the migrant workers were stranded. Ruben's NGO Khana Chahiye battled the challenges the pandemic threw up to help the needy.
Ruben is one of the protagonists of Mihir Fadnavis' feature-length documentary 'Lords of Lockdown', produced by Anurag Kashyap and Navin Shetty. The documentary focuses on the immediate aftermath of the pandemic and had its premiere at the New York Indian Film Festival in May 2021.
Apart from Ruben others featured in the documentary are AK Singh, the then Inspector General, Railway Protection Force, Western Railways, gynaecologist Dr Aparna Hegde and journalist Rana Ayyub. AK Singh's efforts led to the restarting of trains from Mumbai, which helped migrant workers reach their homes. Aparna provided treatment to pregnant women from lower-income backgrounds who did not have access to hospitals, while Rana and her team distributed food supplies in and around Dharavi.
Speaking about concentrating on people going hungry during the pandemic Mihir told The Quint,
"When we started researching for the documentary, our initial idea was to document relief workers, doctors and laboratories researching about the vaccines. However, once the lockdown was announced, we saw something that we didn't expect in our wildest dreams. Thousands of people were rendered homeless and were on the streets, with not a penny on them. From children to the elderly, people were going without food for days. That's when we decided that our focus of the film should be hunger".
Mihir further said that he wanted to tell a 'multifaceted story'. "In order to provide a balanced narrative, I wanted to document people from different walks of life. We looked at the lockdown from different perspectives - a doctor, an Inspector General, a journalist, the migrant workers and an NGO. While researching, we came across so many heartbreaking stories and it was extremely difficult to let go of some because we obviously couldn't incorporate everything in our movie".
When asked about the challenges of filming the documentary during the peak of pandemic Mihir said, "It was very scary to step out everyday since cases were on the rise and there was no vaccine in sight. However, filmmakers have to have the courage and we kept telling ourselves that the plight of the people has to be put out there".
Speaking about the recognition that the film has been getting across festivals Navin said, "The first six months of the lockdown have been devastating. This tragedy that a section of the people has gone through has been captured as a true story through our film. The recognition has been humbling".
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