9 the Film
To start with, let me introduce the premise of Mollywood's genre-bending film of 2019 - the movie 9 - Earth is threatened by an asteroid which when passing through the earth's orbit will render all modern communication impossible. No cell phones, no telephones, no power supply, and man is thrown to be in the cradle of nature. Man is left to fend for himself without any luxuries he was so used to. How his inner demons play with his sanity is what this film is about.
Let us discuss CoronaVirus! Can you name anything more notoriously popular than this right now? Never in our wildest dreams would we have ever thought that a sub-microscopic organism (pardon, the virus is not a living creature) would be capable of influencing the lives of people at this magnitude. There have been instances of widespread epidemics in the past - like SARS, Ebola, Nipah, etc. But those were region-specific and only those who lived in the vicinity were in immediate danger. And freaking out.
But, Corona Virus has forced a shutdown at the global level. Stock markets crashed, flights canceled, cinema theaters shut, sports events canceled/postponed, schools and colleges shut down, businesses nose-dived in sales, employees forced to work from home and above all, humanity evaporated into thin air, as we saw how many masks and toilet papers were snatched from supermarkets by a few individuals.
Suddenly - Haaachooom - HoHoHo - a sneeze, a bout of cough and people look at you as if you were a filthy being or a murderer. You are bundled into an ambulance and rushed into an isolation ward in a hospital, blood sample drawn from your veins and you are in the news as a suspected coronavirus case. Like an exhibit. A prototype. In the news. But not in the way you ever dreamed of.
Is there an unnecessary panic? People paid through their nose for masks and sanitisers taking them off the pharmacy shelves. Some pharmacists became millionaires overnight by selling them at exorbitant prices. Such was the frenzy for these humble masks. Arey, please understand, do not buy in bulk, leave a few for others to buy, everyone should have masks and sanitizers for you to stay uninfected.
The comic tragedy
One good thing that the working professionals loved about Coronavirus was that employers gave them a work from home option. But, the pleasantries at home lasted for only a day or two. Working from home husband and wife began yelling at each other to an extent that they might kill each other before the virus does.
The daughter in law ( who opted a work from home) and mother in law had an ugly verbal spat, kids began behaving like Chhota Bheem eating ladoos for strength (well, for the uninitiated Chhota Bheem eat ladoos to get power, not eat spinach like Popeye), bashing up parents and grandparents and mothers are on the nerves of their working from home kids for staying at home and making them run errands non-stop.
People could not make phone calls as they forgot the purpose of the call by the time the government's coronavirus message ended (thankfully, the pain in the bass ended). Much-awaited fund-rich, audience-rich, entertainment-rich IPL schedule hanging in balance (postponed for now and may even be canceled), our desi English Premier League - ISL - was played behind closed doors, cinema theaters forced to shut and hence no new movie releases.
What will a sane man do? Thank God, there are TV and the internet. But how long can we watch the blame-game between Congress and BJP on TV news hour? Again, Thank God, we have the internet.
But, jokes apart, have we ever thought of what a complete shut-down does to the present generation of people? They behave wildly. The dirty stares we got when we sneeze or the push-pull at pharmacies are proof of dwindling humanity.
Again, let us not generalize. There are good samaritans among the devils too. One pertinent thought - what happens when present-day humans are put in isolation? No loitering around in sprawling malls, no cinema theaters, no crowded temples, no swimming sessions, no travel! Just staying home or quarantined?
Did 9 anticipate isolation troubles during Corona outbreak?
For those who would have watched the Mollywood sci-fi cum horror thriller 9 (which we termed as Pycker India’s Best Movie of the Week for the week of 4-9 February 2019), the current scenario is more or less the same. In that film, communication was snapped and Man begins to bring out his inner demons. Presently, the communication links are open but little outside contact or entertainment. Again, the monster in us is unleashed. Is this true? Nah. At least, people would have begun to talk to family members by taking their eyes off the TV/Laptop/Mobile screens. They would have realized what it means to be with loved ones.
Or for that matter, the critically acclaimed Mollywood film Jallikkattu (again, won Pycker India’s Best Movie of the Week at that time of its release) that talks about the mayhem that ensued when a buffalo ran amok. Humans began to unleash the beast within them when they have no room to vent their stress.
Even the beasts would hang their heads in shame looking at the uncivilized nature of humans. Knock humans off the world of entertainment and how a man behaves (note: man is used as a generalized word for humankind).
There were people who took advantage of the situation and began doing criminally offensive things like spreading panic through social media. Some were irresponsible as they escaped from the quarantine facility and traveled in flights/trains/buses to distant destinations.
But, there’s the other side of the coin. People are at their creative best. Good-hearted trollers and meme-makers are coming up with the best of memes about a global pandemic in an inoffensive manner. We are ROFLing at some of the bleak yet clean humor. Now, thanks to being isolated at home, we are having a whale of a time by dusting things off the shelves as we are rummaging through a pile of books, of late, a forgotten hobby for most of the 70s, 80s, 90s kids. And by introducing books to the current millennials, we are inspiring them to let their imagination soar.
In reality, such pandemic outbreaks give an introspection into how we look at ourselves in times of a lockdown, into our behavior when are isolated, into our thoughts when we are robbed off entertainment (read cinema/sports mostly nowadays), into our relationships and the care we get from our loved ones when we are down with something as trivial (Really!) as a common cold.