Onto the next release of the weekend and I finished watching the new Hindi film India Lockdown that is now streaming on Zee5. The years 2020 and 2021 will go down in history as the worst year in humanity history. It all began in March 2020 when the world stared at a global lockdown following the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus. It was almost as if the entire world had come to a standstill following the lockdown. Those were scary times and something that no one would want to recall. With people close to you passing away, it was probably the darkest phase in each of our lives, collectively speaking.
The lockdown also brought with it a massive exodus where many of the migrant workers had to make their way back home on foot with their family and belongings. So many people did suffer and so many people did lose their lives. Yet, humanity did wriggle its way out of a sticky situation with the return of normalcy. Now, there are so many films that have been made with the backdrop of Corona. And so when India Lockdown was slated for release, I had my red flags up mainly because this is now not a novel concept and humanity is well past that stage which also forms a part of the recent history. But with Madhur Bhandarkar at the helm of it, I had some level of hopes from it. So then does India Lockdown manage to impress, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
India Lockdown focuses on the lives of different people from different walkes of life and how lockdiwn had an impact on each one of them. The story is definitely relevant however it doesn’t quite have a lot of skin to it. The screenplay standing at a shade less than 2 hours ensures that no time is wasted.
The narrative style here is more on the lines of Babel or Mumbai Meri Jaan where seemingly unrelated stories cross paths with one another. Now this is a risky proposition given that the transitions need to be written well here. If those aren’t then the drama would feel disjointed at several places. And that is exactly what the drama suffers from. The writing doesn’t have that zing to it. It is quite a safe piece of writing that just about touches upon a few issues of the lockdown instead of deep diving in a few problems.
The drama needed to be hard-hitting especially given the documentary style of narration. It needed to address the relevant issues all the more. But quite a few of the characters were focusing on s*x(censoring the word to beat the google algorithm) in the drama. Now I have no problem with s*x or its portrayal on the silver screen. But it really does need to sync well with the drama as opposed to including it for the heck of it. And that is what the drama suffers from. I can totally understand that intimacy was a major emotion in the character of Shweta Basu Prasad but surely s*x would have been the least of the problems of a few of the other characters. Not sure if it was added to give a commercial angle to the film.
But there are plenty of things to like as well in the drama. The entire exodus of migrant workers is nicely showcased here and the fate of a brothel during the lockdown also makes for a compelling viewing. Another interesting angle of an elderly person wanting to visit his pregnant daughter also adds a decent spunk to the drama. The last 30 minutes wherein a few of the stories converge(post the opening scene) does form some heartfelt moments and that is where the focus in the writing needed to be in! If it was a little more gritty and focused on the human aspects of the lockdown, then this drama would have worked wonders. But overall, the screenplay is a bit of a hit and a miss and lacks the punch or the conviction.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are decently well penned given that the drama is mounted on the fact that it is essentially conversational. The music is just about average and the BGM doesn’t exude that kind of impact, emotionally or otherwise. The cinematography and the lighting are good and captures the mood of the drama pretty well. Director Madhur Bhandarkar is a great director but he needs to adapt with the times of OTT. His direction seemed slightly outdated here. Having said that, he did show a glimpse of his brilliance in the final 30 minutes that took me back to his Page 3 and Chandni Bar days. We need more of the latter going forward!
The performances are a mixed bag as well, it is that kind of a film! Aahana Kumra as Moon looks very pretty and does a good job even though she has very little to do. Zarin Shihab as Palak is first rate. Prakash Belawadi is sincere and accurately gets into the skin of his character. Saie Tamhankar as Phoolmati brings the right kind of emotions to the table yet the writing restricts her character and doesn’t allow her to bloom. Shweta Basu Prasad as Mehru is spunky and fiery and probably the best actor on display. Prateik Babbar as Madhav is clearly stiff and uncomfortable in the role of the migrant worker. His dialogue delivery is way off and his physicality doesn’t quite leave a desired impact considering the scenarios that his character goes through. He was clearly miscast.
India Lockdown is scratchy and less impactful that makes it more of a miss than a hit. Available on Zee5.