Geetika Vidya Ohlyan in 'Unpaused' Photograph:( Others )
In a candid conversation with WION, Geetika Vidya Ohlyan and Lillete Dubey, who star in two of the short films in Unpaused, speak about their experience of shooting during the pandemic, online promotions, and much more.
With lockdown being one of the most discussed topics of the year, it's not surprising to see many upcoming content being centered around it. The latest addition being Amazon Prime Video's 'Unpaused', an anthology of 5 short films showing various experiences people had during these unusual times. These films have been directed by filmmakers Raj & DK, Nikkhil Advani, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Avinash Arun and Nitya Mehra.
In a candid conversation with WION Geetika Vidya Ohlyan and Lillete Dubey, who star in two of the short films in 'Unpaused' speak about their experience of shooting during the pandemic, online promotions, and much more.
How has it been adjusting to the new normal, with promotions for your film being held online?
Geetika Vidya Ohlyan: I am not a native of any of the metropolitans, I have been born and brought up in Haryana and it irked me always that for every little thing, any non-metropolitan person is expected to leave the culture, the family and everything behind and be there. So, it becomes a very huge choice. You either choose this world or that world.
I feel one of the blessings that has come in the form of an alternative because of COVID is that people are getting to be efficient with their energy, with their presence and with their time. I have always seen the promotions of any sort of project on screen, however, to make that possible, people would really dress up, travel and be at a particular place. So, they would invest a disproportionate amount of time and efforts would go into something which is promotions. Today I feel content that I am home, I choose some time and invest my energy.
We can choose what is human contact important for. So, for something like a promotional event I can not imagine how people would move from one studio to another or how they would go from one place to another, to be doing what I am doing sitting home.
Lillete Dubey: For the past 9 months, we have been doing so much stuff online that it is not so strange anymore. If this had happened last year, we would have found it very odd. But one has been doing talks, one has been doing interviews, one has been listening to so much stuff online. So, I think if a technically challenged dinosaur like me has been able to do some of that, I think we have all acclimatized to a new way of communication.
Tell us about more your respective short films and the characters you played?
Geetika Vidya Ohlyan: 'Vishaanu' is a peep into the hearts of individuals who to me are almost de-humanized, the migrant laborers. We as artists have enough resources to pamper and take care our own selves but there is a large section that is so deprived of basic necessities that I feel they are robbed of their humanity. This story looks into the human aspect of that huge mass that we saw suffering.
When I played Seema, there was so much that went inside me, which I tried to convey through my eyes. I am really looking forward to the audience watching this.
Lillete Dubey: My character in the film 'Rat-A-Tat' is someone who is very close to my age. She is very cut off from the world, has no time for anything except her own life. Someone with her own system and way of living, which gets even more exaggerated obviously during the lockdown. Then a small incident with a neighbor, a girl who has come from a very small town of Maharastra has a great significance for this character and how she changes during the film.
It’s just a 20-22 minutes film, but the character's journey was lovely for me. From where she started to where she ultimately reached through this little relationship.
How was the shooting experience in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic?
Geetika Vidya Ohlyan: There was a point in which we understood, that the state in which our nation is in and the place where our country stands as compared to other nations, our number will come very late to get a medicine. And till then we will not be getting money delivered to our homes. So, we will have to step out.
We can not afford to get paranoid. But we also couldn't think that nothing is happening. Yes, something is happening. We had to understand it and then handle the situation. We had to take care of each other and step out.
Lillete Dubey: Though I am in that bracket where everyone was telling me that 'senior citizens' should not go outside and my family and friends were all freaking out. I said look, I can not live in a bubble for the rest of my life. I will be cautious, I will be safe, I will wear the mask. I feel like in this whole thing, we have to be very careful, be cautious but we can not stop living. We simply can’t do that. In fact, I think I was in great spirits and so happy to hit a set, start shooting and performing and being a part of something creative and fulfilling again.
I haven’t been apprehensive after that, I have done recordings, I have shot more and I really haven’t been scared at all. I think you just have to mentally be careful and that’s all.
What is your next venture?
Lillete Dubey: I am going to be doing a play, Shobha De has written a book called 'Lockdown Liaisons', which are 24 shorts stories on the lockdown, including a migrant story. I am choosing 5 out of those and doing them as monologues.
What makes 'Unpaused' unique?
Geetika Vidya Ohlyan: 'Unpaused' is for people to see different experiences that people had, different states of different individuals of different strata. So it will be reassuring, they will find identifiable moments.
Lillete Dubey: I think for me doing the film was very important because it is about a period in our collective human history that will be recorded. People are going to relate to it enormously because every one of us, all around the world will relate to some aspect of it, whether romance went out of their lives, whether they found a new friendship, whether the strangest relationship developed, whatever it may be. But it will touch somewhere.
What is art finally, it is the shared human experience, so that is what the film is about, our shared experience of the lockdown?
'Unpaused' will be available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video from December 18.