Like all of us, filmmaker Shekhar Kapur never expected the current Coronova crisis to fall on us so suddenly and swiftly. Shekhar is stranded far away from civilization, somewhere outside India.
Connecting somehow with me Shekhar says, “I am locked down in a place where there is very little internet and connectivity. However I do get news on my phone intermittently. It’s painful. But I’ve little to complain about. Compared to so many of my countrymen. I am relatively well feed and have a roof above my head.”
But being so cut off from civilization has frightened Shekhar. “What if I fall sick? I am a 12-hour drive from serious medical help, that’s if I can even find someone to drive me. It’s a sobering thought. But what do I do? Where do I go? If I had to move, there is absolutely nowhere I could go.”
Shekhar agrees this pandemic is a wakeup call for humanity. “We have gotten used to isolating ourselves from harsh realities. We have been selfish and over-consumptive. It’s time to look deeply into our lives and ask ourselves, ‘How did we buy into this false pretense of an existence? This virus is a hard slap on our civilization.”
Shekhar’s advice to his countrymen? “Help others. As much as you can. Don’t just be generous as an act. Accept generosity as a way of life. And humility. If this virus has not taught the human race humility, nothing will. If we don’t develop humility now, then we are a false civilization.”
Hasn’t the over-use of the social media platform made civilization a race of posers?
Shekhar disagrees. “Overall Social Media is a good thing. Yes, many look at it as an expression of their own vanity. And there’s too much angst and anger expressed. But on balance it’s a great tool.”
The globally acclaimed director of Masoom, Mr India, Bandit Queen and Elizabeth says he is not bored with the prolonged layoff from work and social contact. “I am not bored at all. I have had a brilliant life. Couldn’t have asked for more. People don’t know 20% of what I did. From films to musical stage shows all over the world to being at MIT to do a series of lectures all over the world, to tech start-ups before the word start-up became popular. I’ve been an accountant, a management consultant … I’ve been so busy doing things. And this is the time to reflect. What is that I have not done What did all of that mean? This is the time for me think about my life. Have I achieved what I wanted to?”
The brilliant director has not directed a feature film since Elizabeth The Golden Age 13 years ago. Which film will Shekhar direct next? “I will still say Paani…Whenever I can. I know it’s been a while. Often you need to stretch the bow harder and straighter … aim more focused so the arrow goes swiftly and strikes the target with a great intent and passion … and causes an explosion of a sea-change.”
That explosion of creative fertility will only happen when normalcy is restored. Till then Shekhar Kapur can only wait. Like all of us.
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