Post the success of his critically-acclaimed film, Thappad released this year, Anubhav Sinha has recently announced his next project – an anthology film based on stories and experiences from the coronavirus pandemic to be produced under his production banner, Benaras Mediaworks.
Interestingly, the brilliant storyteller has joined hands with four of his filmmaker friends including Hansal Mehta, Sudhir Mishra, Ketan Mehta and Subhash Kapoor to develop an anthology film focused on the subject that we are living through presently – the experiences of life amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Talking about the idea of an anthology and the inspiration behind it, Anubhav Sinha informs, “It will be an interesting bunch of names, to tell stories of an interesting time in our lives. We will all interpret this period – starting February/March 2020 – and we will all tell a story from it.”
Anubhav Sinha, who is spearheading the collective effort, points out, “This is such an interesting time, you know – even though I realise interesting may not be the best word. Sudhir bhai’s driver had contracted COVID and he was unable to get a bed – and we were making all sorts of phone calls just to get him a hospital bed. Uss raat mere dimaag mein aaya ki humein usko document karna chahiye. And what better way to do it than different filmmakers looking at different things? Sudhir bhai ke pitaji ki death hui COVID period mein. We lost Irrfan – aur hum Irrfan ke janaaze par bhi nahi jaa paye. Nikloon ki nahi nikloon… Tigmanshu (Dhulia) ko police se jhagda karna pada – he said main toh jaaonga, bhai hai mera!”
He adds, “Yeh saari cheezein disturbing thi. Mujhe laga inko record karna chahiye. Maine phir baat kari sab doston se – and they all said haan yaar karte hain. And that’s how the idea behind it began to formalise. This seemed like a good collaboration for all of us. There’s one story by Subhash, one by Hansal, one by Sudhir bhai, one probably by Ketan. These are filmmakers that I believe that the so-called ‘Bollywood’ has largely ignored.”
Shedding more light on each filmmaker’s story, Anubhav explains, “Hansal’s story is quite comic and quite tragic. Sudhir bhai’s is quite political. Subhash’s is also political, but in a different way. I am still struggling with my story – I want to tell an atmospheric story, which is about fear. I live on the 20th floor and I can see a very large expanse of Mumbai from my window. It has suddenly started looking like a deserted, dead city. And Ketan is saying ‘main dekh ke batata hoon’”.