The film industry has come to a complete standstill over fears of the Coronavirus. Artists are now staring at an indefinite break wherein they don’t know when they’ll be on a film set again. Many are using this forced break to spend time with family, catch up on movies and TV shows, and entertain people on Instagram. Film Companion will be checking in on artists to see how they’re coping with social distancing. Actress Sonam Kapoor speaks to us about using her social media responsibly during this time.
You’ve been very active on social media. You’re pushing out the right stuff and rallying behind the people who are in front of this…
I feel like this is the time to do it… to speak for the people who don’t have a voice and to support those who are sticking their necks out and speaking loud and clear. I feel that’s the right thing to do. A lot of people think I have my foot in my mouth all the time but I feel that’s okay and I don’t care about what people say about me anymore. I have a platform and a voice and it is my duty to use it whenever I can. I hope it gives other people courage to do the same. Recently, there was a lot of stigma attached to getting the virus and shaming someone who has it. Ostracizing the person is not going to let other people come out and say that they have the virus. Like I said on social media, empathy is the need of the hour.
Hey guys @TheKanikakapoor came back on the 9th. India was not self isolating but playing Holi.
— Sonam K Ahuja (@sonamakapoor) March 21, 2020
Is this why you posted that tweet about Kanika Kapoor, because you found that was just unfair?
Yes. I know that it is irresponsible, especially when you are educated and you have a background where you are living with your grandparents or your old parents. I see why people are critical of that. Swaddle is a really nice platform that I follow and they had an article on why it’s wrong to demonise people who have the virus. I don’t know Kanika at all but I just feel that she did try to get herself tested, right? So the fact that she did get herself tested means she understood the implications of it eventually. I am not supporting the fact that she went out to party. I am not supporting her irresponsible behaviour but I am just saying that don’t demonise a person.
Like the chef who passed away (Floyd Cardoz), he had put a post saying that he had the virus and because of the trolling, the fear and stress that people went through, he took down the post and then he put up another post saying that I am really sorry I posted it. And his last post is him apologising for being really sick. That is the saddest thing. I understand that your business might be harmed and all of this but first he did the responsible thing and then after, because of the stigma and negativity attached to it, he was made to pull down his post and I felt so bad.
I know that you also posted about donating to the various funds that have been created for the daily wage earners within the film industry. How do you think this is going to impact the business in the long run?
I am a silent partner in an agency that my manager runs which is for styling, hair and makeup. We only make money when they make money. We know for the next 2-3 months, there will be no income coming in for them. So the best we can do to take the pressure off them is not take the percentage of the profit that they make to a capacity that we can as a company so that we don’t go underpaying the monthly salaries to the people that we have hired whether they are working from home or not working.
But is it going to have a huge effect on the film industry because we work in conditions that are not exactly sanitary and safe. I have worked on several small projects and small budget films… People are afraid. Life as we know it has completely changed. Now there are so many streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon, Hotstar, Zee, Disney etc and people are anyway migrating towards them. There were only these big-budget films that were doing super well on a commercial basis. The kind of films that I do like Ek Ladki Ko Dekha or The Zoya Factor were not tracking that much. Even till 3 years ago when Neerja released, there was a completely different way of looking at things and going to the cinema. So I think that might take a hit, even though I am dying to go into a movie theatre and watch a film.
I know the first thing I did was to speak to my sister about the environmental impact that we have as filmmakers, the way we use plastic bottles and the kind of wastage that happens. We need to hire a firm who can come and tell us how we can be socially and environmentally responsible while we are making a film. Even though I am a kind of ‘woke celebrity’, I never thought of it.
How do you creatively stay inspired and how do you nourish your soul as an artist when you don’t even know when the next shoot is going to be?
I wanted to do readings. I have a couple of films that were supposed to go on floor. Sujoy’s (Ghosh) one is there which was supposed to go on the floor. Shome (Makhija) is directing it, Sujoy’s assistant for several years. I was super excited about it. We were supposed to shoot it in London. They are saying it is still happening. I had a film with my sister. I was reading something that was super exciting for a digital platform. I was considering it before all this happened because it was really brilliant. A lot of things have come to me.
Fortunately for our production company nothing was on floor and for me, as an actor, nothing was on floors yet. Rheson, Bhane and Veg-Nonveg, the three brands that we have, one with my sister and two with my husband, that is where we suffered a little bit in terms of sales. The online platform is still available but we can only deliver the clothes later on.
What are you bingeing on?
I am reading. I watched the last Star Wars film which came out. I saw Bombshell, which I hadn’t seen. I know that there are a lot of contrary views but I really enjoyed it. I thought it was really good and really engaging. I have been watching a lot of reality stuff like documentaries. I started watching House M.D again. But I would recommend not to watch too many series at this time. I would say watch films because you need to keep a very strict regimen when you are in quarantine. It just keeps you sane.
I wake up at the same time every morning. I reply to all my messages and emails and read something, I have my hot water. I just keep a very strict regimen.