Coronavirus: How Life Is For a Work-from-Home Entertainment Journalist
Think Pieces

Coronavirus: How Life Is For a Work-from-Home Entertainment Journalist

Subhash K Jha talks about being quaratined almost all his life, working from home

My father used to say, “Beware of all things Made In China.” As China plunged the universe into an unprecedented  crisis, I can see him smiling his I-told-you-so smile. At the moment, as I look down on a deserted street with two men, walking anxiously and fearfully masks to unknown  destinations and a lady buying vegetables from a hawker who has been stubbornly on the road since early morning, unable to sell enough to buy a meal for himself and his family for the day,  I  wonder  how long civilization would remain locked away waiting for our bin bulaye mehmaan to leave. Goodbye, good riddance. And Atithee Deo Bhav be damned. Chow Mein also be damned.

For me,working out of home is no big deal. I have done  it all my life. As my dearest most beloved Goddess Lataji  quipped,  “Aap toh quarantine  hi  mein rehte hain hardam.Aapko kya farq  padta hai?”

It reminded me of the time when she would travel to London for the summer months every year. Once I  asked her where she was and she  had retorted, “Aapko kya farq  padta hai main kahan hoon?Jahan bhi rahun aapse baat karti rahungi.” Amen to that.

Jee. Mujhe farq padta hai. Like Rekha, I’ve been quarantined all my life. She only comes out to attend film awards and star weddings. She  misses wearing  her  jewellery and saree. Like Neena Gupta who posed from home wearing her expensive new  gold necklace as she felt she may not get a chance to wear it out anytime soon, Rekha can get ready in her finery and  pretend she is going out. She can even pose with one of her many awards in front of  the mirror, pretending she has won a new award.

If that sounds batty then let me tell you, the millions who are on home arrest would need professional psychological help to get out of their acute depression after weeks, if not months of isolation. Domestic violence has already escalated.Suicides may  follow. My workload has  increased and I want to thank PM Modi for that. Many other entertainment journalists don’t know how to  work outside their workplaces, and are at  a loss as to how to generate content from home. I know no other way of working.

What I miss is my movie screenings. In that context, Angezi Medium which  was screened for me on Wednesday March  11  would remain a benchmark. Hereafter, for all times to come Angrezi Medium would be the film “before” and “after” the  virus  lockdown. I don’t know when I will be able to return to the movie theatres. It is like living without oxygen. Only another movie addict will know what  I mean.

At home I am watching any number of foreign films.Not  Chinese, though. I have decided not to watch any Chinese films, not even  Ang Lee because right now I am very Ang Lee, sorry angry.

The OTT digital platform is making the best of the lockdown unleashing a torrent of  home viewing stuff for a humanity starved of  domestic diversion. In Hollywood even the big-screen biggies like The Way Home and  Never Really Sometimes Always are being released on the streaming  platform. In Bollywood,they will wait. They won’t release  big-screen  films on  OTT. If you are hoping to see Sooryavanshi or 83 pop up at home then I’m afraid you have a long wait ahead.

As  days  of lockdown have grown into  a week,  my friends in  Mumbai are getting restless. What started  off as an  adventure and a  fashion statement—“I’m learning to cook….It’s  so liberating to  stay home and  not dress  up…”etc etc—has become  an ordeal.

How much longer? Bollywood  is wondering with the  rest  of the nation. We are still better off than America  where folks expect themselves to be locked away for many months. I spoke to  star chef Vikas Khanna in New York and he was  pretty certain the situation would go on.  Iconic talkshow hosts like  Ellen DeGeneres , Jimmy Fallon and  Jimmy Kimmel are  posting silly videos  from home where we see them trying to  keep their spirits high by bringing in their  kids to participate. But I can see  the look of despair in  their eyes.

Nothing compared to the man who died while trying to walk home to Agra from Delhi. He was  only 39. Little children on my street are facing starvation. How much of Akshay Kumar's INR 25 crores will actually reach them?

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