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How Bollywood is embracing digital storytelling during lockdown

03:19 PM Apr 15, 2020 | PTI |
Mumbai: Bollywood celebrities such as director Onir, actor Sunny Leone and author Tahira Kashyap are utilising their time at home during the national lockdown to keep the creativity flowing: from making short films, creating web shows to narrating fictional stories, all on the Internet. With cinema halls shut and all production suspended due to the coronavirus, there has been a boom in content for online platforms. Actors are going live on Facebook and Instagram to interact with fans, and musicians in the country are performing online gigs to ease the tension.
Sunny Loene started her live chat show "Locked Up with Sunny" on social media.  
Tahira Kashyap was one of the firsts to start a video series titled "The Lockdown Tales", where she narrates mini fictional stories aided by sound effects on Instagram. So far, the writer has uploaded four stories, chronicling the lives of people through fictional characters who have been affected by the lockdown. The idea to take to the digital storytelling was the "most natural" for her, she said. "It wasn't only because of the lockdown. I had to bring forth my most creative self. I was overwhelmed with the situation. I was oscillating between being hopeful and devastated, knowing what all is happening. Each one of us is living these moments and I wanted to put words, memories and stories to these moments," Tahira told PTI.
Shreya Dhanwanthary of The Family Man fame, decided to make her directorial debut with the micro-series "A Viral Wedding: Made In Lockdown. The made-from-home series follows the story of a social media influencer (Shreya), who refuses to cancel her wedding due to the lockdown. "I thought of doing something on the current scenario. Nobody had ever thought that the entire world would be on pause mode. This is unprecedented. It is an attempt to reflect on the reality of the situation in a light-hearted way through this micro-series," Shreya said. The actor believes the shot-at-home format could possibly become a new "avenue" for the entertainment industry. "We are thinking about newer ways to entertain people," she said.
Onir has started inviting budding filmmakers to utilize their time in the lockdown by making short film indoors, which he and frequent collaborator-actor Sanjay Suri will judge. He was surprised by the response it grew in numbers every week and said the whole idea was to engage people in something creative. "For me it started with 'Lockdown Diaries' where everyday I was putting out videos of cooking and various things I'm doing. I thought why not extend this. I'm anyway doing my own videos, which are motivational, but a lot of people  actors and filmmakers  approach you on social media," he said. "I thought this is a good time to do something from home. This is a good way to look for talent also at the same time you're giving something for people to do, to engage themselves," Onir said. The sentiment to "mobilise creative minds to express different aspects of these times" was what made Suri come on board. "It's wonderful that people are able to create in such trying times. Perhaps the most touching stories in recent times will emerge from these feelings. Be it short stories, inspirational videos with workouts, cooking recipes or even live session counselling or chats that people have been doing," he added.
Prasoon Pandey virtually directed the short film "Family", which featured stars like Amitabh Bachchan, Rajinikanth, Ranbir Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Diljit Dosanjh among others. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the lockdown last month, Prasoon felt it was the right time to do something. "We were all trapped, if you look at it, and there was no point in just sitting and waiting. I started writing and several ideas came to me. I just wanted to use this time to convey a larger point - to send across a social message using entertainment, through TV and the Internet," he added.
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