India Lockdown movie review: celebrates the triumph of human spirit
What: India Lockdown - Award Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar who is known for making gritty and hard-hitting films like Chandni Bar, Satta, Fashion, Page 3 etc, this time centers his plot on the biggest and the most massive phenomenon which gripped the entire human race - The Covid- 19 pandemic and the nationwide lockdown that emerged out of it.
OTT movie India Lockdown review
Adopting a 'Babel' like template, Madhur Bhandarkar narrates four stories from different strata of people to revisit the horrors of the pandemic and how the lockdown affected their lives.
When Coronavirus hit the country, it went under lockdown. Curfews were imposed. Offices and workplaces were shut. Work from home became the new normal. The most affected were the migrant workers, street vendors and laborers, who had to leave for their native as they were rendered jobless. Probably , that's the reason why Madhav and Phoolwati's plight (played by Prateik Babbar and Sai Tamhankar) impacts the most. It's a struggle for life and livelihood that the couple carve out battling hunger and slimy fellow travellers with hardly a penny left in their pocket.
Madhur also casts an emphatic gaze at the lives of the sex workers in Mumbai. That's an arena which he has masterfully tackled since the 'Chandni Bar' days. Mehru, played by Shweta Basu Prasad, sees her 'dhanda' dwindling owing to the lockdown and social distancing measures. Struggling for her ends to meet, she helps her mother monetarily who is unaware of her profession, until she is robbed of all her savings.
A flimsy treatment to loneliness and crave for companionship didn't evade me when the sassy and spunky pilot, Moon Alves (Aahana Kumra) hits on her much younger neighbor who is desperate to make out with his girlfriend but lockdown plays the spoilsport.
The finicky and panicky senior citizen (Prakash Belawadi) is the most authentic and genuinely moving portrayal of the quandary that creeper into our lives during the lockdown, when we couldn't get any household help and had to all the things on our own, even if it was to be a drive from Mumbai to Hyderabad.
But barring a few compelling performances like that from Sai, Belawadi and Basu, Madhur's characters don't penetrate our hearts. The feeling is pretty cursory. The only moment I experienced a slow flush of emotions was with the connection established between Babbar and Belawadi. Otherwise, his universe is a cliché - swarmed with opportunistic men like that of Gopal Singh who makes sexual advances towards Sai's distressed Phooleati or Mehru's pimp( Saanand) who says, " Apne dhande mein ladki jitni chhoti, rakam utni moti".
I wish the writing by Amit Joshi and Aradhana Sah had more meat, the emotions had more depth. But given the stifled writing, Shweta Prasad gives her character the requisite and uninhibited spunk and stands out from the rest. Babbar's character could have registered the most impact but the actor looks stiff with a strained accent and his physicality is remotely associated with an underfed laborer.
I personally feel that Bhandarkar's earlier films like Chandni Bar, Fashion, Page 3 or Corporate handled human grief more smartly. They were more sublime, poignant and unsettling.
India Lockdown is a sincere stab at depicting the tragedy but it is far away from a sting.
I go with 3 stars. The 1 hour 52 minute film is streaming on Zee5.