Published: 25th May 2020
This Mumbai animator's hard-hitting video compares your privileged life with a migrant's during the lockdown
Debjyoti Saha's video which was posted five days ago was quick to go viral. It is a part of his series called 'Korona'
Corona is morbid. Corona hits you hard. Corona haunts you. Corona tells you that we are not in this (lockdown) together. The novel Coronavirus wiped more than 345,000 people off the face of the planet. The lockdown, which was implemented to control the virus' spread, left many penniless, hungry and stranded. While some complained about not being able to go out of their homes and socialise, the others decided to walk thousands of kilometres, bearing their belongings and savings, with a hope of making it home someday.
Sadly, not all of them made it.
This contrast is what animation filmmaker Debjyoti Saha essays through his latest video, which is part of his animation series Korona. "Korona (pronounced Corona) in the Bengali language means 'don't do'. Through this series, I am focussing on a lot of deep-rooted issues in Indian society," says this 25-year-old. Saha posted the video on May 21 on his Instagram handle and it soon went viral.
The video simultaneously shows the lockdown from two perspectives - that of an upper-middle-class man who can afford to stay home and a migrant labourer who is walking home with his family. The contrast is visibly stark because they're equal halves (the irony of it all) of the screen.
While the upwardly mobile protagonist begins his day by exercising and spends most of their time relaxing, watching Netflix, surfing social media, making videos and doing household chores while being in an air-conditioned room, where they later go to sleep wearing an eye mask, the latter spends the major part of the day walking, while occasionally taking refuge under a tree and eventually goes to sleep on the railway tracks. In between, disinfectant is sprayed on him. he calls his family over phone and cries. The video ends as a train approaches the sleeping migrant.
It took Debjyoti around three days to produce the video. "This wasn't honestly a production-heavy video," he admits. For someone who's been following the news and the migrant crisis since the beginning of the lockdown, he tells us that he was tempted to do a project on the issue. The Aurangabad train tragedy was an obvious trigger. "Sadly, I've been noticing a pattern. The migrant issue disappears from the news and social media after a few days. We've even forgotten the Aurangabad incident," he says. "I hope the issue gains momentum through the video," he says.
Debjyoti did expect the video to get popular, but he was obviously surprised by it going viral. "I am happy that the message resonates with people," he says. He tells us how he and his friends are also doing their bit to help out the migrant labourers and others. "We are raising funds by selling art through Facebook, which we create based on prompts that people give us," he says. They are now raising funds to help the victims of cyclone Amphan.
Lockdown is certainly not the easiest of times for Debjyoti. He tells us about the days in which he has faced water and electricity problems in his home in Mumbai. However, he doesn't forget to acknowledge his privilege. "At the end of the day, our problems are much smaller compared to lakhs of other people," he says. "The intent if the video was not to mock that privilege, but to tell people to help the less fortunate in these tough times," he concludes.