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5 Indian

Five of India’s leading film-makers are joining hands for an as-yet-untitled anthology film about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, reported Variety. The project will be produced by film-maker Anubhav Sinha’s Benares Mediaworks. Others contributing to it include Ketan Mehta, Sudhir Mishra, Hansal Mehta and Subhash Kapoor.

“For the past few months, during the lockdown, we have been speaking more regularly than ever before,” Sinha told the publication. “Obviously, a lot of those conversations have been about this pandemic that ground the whole world to a halt. We could see a lot of change or unravelling. I thought this must be recorded for posterity. We had to cherry-pick the stories we would like to tell and it is a fascinating bunch we have put together.”

The film-makers are all well-known chroniclers of the Indian condition. Sinha had a fruitful Bollywood inning, including big-budget sci-fi Ra.One, starring Shah Rukh Khan and Kareena Kapoor-Khan. He then changed direction with last year’s religious intolerance drama Mulk, starring Rishi Kapoor and Taapsee Pannu, Indian caste system expose Article 15, starring Ayushmann Khurrana and marital drama Thappad, also starring Pannu. Mishra, known for political drama Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi and Mumbai mafia thriller Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin has Netflix original Serious Men due shortly.

“Three friends meet again in these times, they had separated in anger and bitterness,” said Mishra, describing the project. Mehta’s work, on the other hand, includes colonial feminist drama Mirch Masala and India-Pakistan Partition satire Toba Tek Singh. Kapoor’s credits include legal comedy Jolly LLB and its sequel, starring Arshad Warsi.

Mehta’s gay rights drama Aligarh and Omerta, about the kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journalist Daniel Pearl received worldwide festival exposure. He describes his segment as, “A tragicomic tale set during the lockdown that explores themes of inequality, greed, poverty and privilege.”

Principal photography for the upcoming joint project is slated to begin at the end of this year. It is the second international project to be taking on the pandemic as its main theme. Just last week, US cable network CBS announced that its long-running medical drama Grey’s Anatomy plans to address coronavirus pandemic and its impact on first responders in its upcoming 17th season.

"There's no way to be a long-running medical show and not do the medical story of our lifetimes. We're going to address this pandemic for sure,” the show’s executive producer Krista Vernoff said last week.

The storyline has been reserved for the character of Dr Owen Hunt, plated by Kevin McKidd, who is a former US Army trauma surgeon. "It's really important to reflect on what's going on in our society right now in our show. It puts up a mirror sometimes to what's happening in America and the world," added McKidd.