In a post-Coronavirus world, I think it’s safe to expect that a lot of screenwriters and directors will incorporate our current scenario into their movie scripts. What would a love story in the age of social distancing look like? Or a social drama on the dark times we’re living in? Team Film Companion picks the Indian filmmakers that could give us the perfect pandemic movie to capture this time.
Dibakar Banerjee would locate the callousness, the incompetency, the corruption, the communal bias in our response to Covid-19 but he would also find the absurd humour in all the darkness, which is the only way this film would be palatable! – Anupama Chopra
Frankly, I’m so sick (figuratively speaking) and mad about being locked in that I want a spectacularly larger-than-life wish-fulfillment fantasy, with Shankar at the helm and a robotically enhanced Rajinikanth as the ass-kicking protagonist. The film opens with the virus attacking the people of Tamil Nadu. (VISUAL: Crowds watching an Ajith or Vijay film. Slowly, the cheering turns into coughing.) Rajini gets activated. He speaks in punchlines like: Don’t pray in temple or church or mosque / Just hand-sanitise and use mask. Once the message goes, um, viral and people are safe, Super Star takes on the super-virus: the mega-budget captures the mutating pathogen in all its awful power. Rajini reduces himself to subatomic size and multiplies himself. Each mini-Rajini grabs a virus and… it dies. The twist ending reveals that he had coated his hands with soap. – Baradwaj Rangan
I still think that Mani Ratnam has got his mojo. He’ll probably make a movie about a newly-married couple. However, the conflict here is that they’re stuck in different countries – the husband struggles to survive on tasteless food in a small hotel in Sri Lanka and the wife sings away to glory in a middle-class neighbourhood in Chennai. Obviously, A. R. Rahman is going to come up with awesome tunes and the ending will be – I’m guessing – in the middle of the sea since that’s the only place where they can reconnect. And the title can be OK Corona (it’s not O Kadhal Corona, it’s actually O Kanraavi Corona). – Karthik Keramalu
The ad-film director is only two feature films old, but both of them – Let’s Talk (2002) and Neerja (2016) – are chamber dramas that hinge on the inextricable relationship between (limited) space, (limited) time and human nature. If that isn’t the definition of a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, I don’t know what is. The narrative could be a perfect hybrid of his first two films: Imagine a stone-cold medical thriller told from the perspective of a pregnant government hospital nurse who, on discovering that she is infected with the virus, plays out three separate scenarios in her head featuring disaster (she dies on the job), logic (she goes home while her colleagues/patients suffer) and humanity (she helps other patients while in quarantine). – Rahul Desai
LIJO JOSE PELLISERY
Lijo Jose Pellisery, any day. How is the idea of LJP making a film about a pangolin running amuck in a village sending all its people into frenzy? It only affects a few hundred people but, you see, this village is a microcosm of the universe and what uncontrolled capitalistic forces can do to society. Of course, minimalist/apocalyptic music will work perfectly in such a film. It is also easier to create using all the steel plates and pans one can find at home. #WFH – Vishal Menon
Imtiaz Ali will make a fascinating lock-down movie, mostly because every time his protagonists are stuck in a room together, they end up delivering monologues and spewing venom-esque dialogues. It’s never meditative like when they glimpse out at Corsica at twilight, or sit at some European bridge, or sleep on a cot at the foothills of a mountain. Perhaps, when he is stripped of all external beauty, exhausting all his tropes, and unable to make us travel vicariously, he might have something profound to say about the human condition. His whitewashed Rumi translations might help. – Prathyush Parasuraman
He would do justice to the science behind the pandemic. Think of the sequence in Dasavathaaram where a killer bioweapon is created and set loose. He would also address political and sociological aspects, like the sequence in Vishwaroopam that painstakingly traces the roots of global terrorism without pointing fingers at the usual suspects. I’d like to imagine that he’d make a version of Dr. Strangelove and expose the farcical side of this whole episode. And I’m hoping he’ll play more than ten roles this time. – Ashutosh Mohan
RAJ & DK
Someday, when we’re hopefully way past this pandemic, we may be able to see the humour in our current situation. The scrambling for masks, sanitisers and groceries, and the lighting of diyas and banging of vessels. I think one of Raj and DK’s greatest strengths is to be able to mine humour from the unlikeliest of situations. So I’d like to see a pandemic film from them – maybe Shor in the City-style – that is gritty and tense but also makes us laugh. – Mohini Chaudhuri
Who else but the man who loves the idea of a family staying together can make a song and dance about our current situation. Instead of the cabin fever slowly creeping in on us, and the screeching that has become the order of the day (I’m telling you, no one plays family board games or watches movies together; they are pulling a fast one on you!), we will probably really have family bonding over billiards, you know.
We might have a catchy tune for washing vessels, which will take on another hook and come back to revisit us when we are folding clothes, while dancing, of course. The kitchen, oh the kitchen, is always king in a Barjatya film. I can imagine carrots with their green leaves intact sitting on the kitchen platform, and forget that I actually waited for an hour in the queue in the morning to see that last carrot go into someone else’s bag! In the evening, the family will dine together, and watch TV together, because they don’t like OTT streaming on individual phones, and possibly sing the young ones a lullaby, while the pets play fetch. And then, at night, when the world is asleep, a young jodi will make a dash from their respective rooms/houses, with the mask on, of course, since everyone usually follows the right path in a Rajshri film, and sings songs. And, when the Covid lockdown is over, this family will get back to living life … the same way! – Subha J Rao
We’re a few weeks away from ‘Trapped’ becoming a reality anyway. – Sucharita Tyagi