The second wave of COVID-19 has devastated the country and led to significant damage to all industries and loss of life. In such trying times, celebrities from India’s multiple film industries have come forward to help people. While some have been using their significant social media following to amplify information and SOS calls, others have started fundraisers or donated to charities working with COVID-19 patients. One of the celebrities who has been working extremely hard to help people out during these difficult times is Gurmeet Choudhary. Choudhary has been tirelessly working to help anyone in dire need with ICU Beds, Hospital Beds, Oxygen, Ventilator support across the nation.
You are an inspiration to many including me!! Keep inspiring ðÂÂÂÂÂÂ https://t.co/IpyStvv2vO
— GURMEET CHOUDHARY (@gurruchoudhary) May 24, 2021
The actor and his team have had sleepless nights for the past few weeks and are prepared to continuously do so, as the situation goes from bad to worse in every city across the nation. From crowdfunding for patients in need, to finding COVID-19 medicines and even providing Oxygen cylinders and procuring them, Choudhary has been doing it all. Perhaps, this also stems from the fact that the actor and his wife, actor Debina Bonnerjee had themselves tested positive for the coronavirus last year. In an interview with Filmfare, the actor opens up on living during the pandemic and how the film industry is coping right now.
How did you cope with your period of quarantine?
The quarantine phase was quite a life changing experience for me. I discovered a lot about myself and started valuing my surroundings, my family, all those around me, pretty much my life in general! There are so many things that we humans take for granted, for example something as simple as the sensation of taste or smell. It was a very tough phase that we all went through, and I tried to divert my mind by reading books and watching varied types of movies and web shows which were on my checklist. I started practising meditation which was so refreshing mentally and physically and it enabled me to control my thoughts from digressing elsewhere. Due to our busy schedules, I never had got enough time to spend with my wife Debina and given the lockdown I finally could undo that. I had ample time to discover my partner and spend quality time with her. We started doing activities together like reading books, watching movies, working out and motivating others on our social media platforms towards positivity and awareness to combat the tough times.
Do you know how you got the virus?
As studies suggest, it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint as to how exactly one contracted the COVID-19 virus. It’s ambiguous and very uncertain as it can be contracted from any source, point of contact or even any activity. For me, it started appearing once I returned from the shoot of my film, The Wife, which was underway in Jaipur. A week post my return I started showing symptoms of COVID-19. So it could be that I contracted it anywhere, in Jaipur or in Mumbai but I can’t really say it for sure.
What kind of financial and emotional strain has the virus taken on you?
With God’s grace, there is no financial strain on us, touch wood. I am fortunate enough and blessed to say that but yes, on the emotional front it was very taxing. We actors are always busy, always on the go, either heading to a narration, producers meetings, gym workouts or shoots. All in all our daily schedule has always been very tight and we spend a large chunk of our time working out of the house. As a result, the initial 10-15 days were refreshing as we got to dedicate a lot of time to our families and ourselves by doing things we love but after a few months, it hit us hard. The uncertainty of the time, like when will the pandemic end, always played on our minds. The pandemic had hit the entire world and there was no vaccine back then. People were suffering and in many unfortunate cases they were dying and all of this affected me on an emotional level. So much so that on the work front also there was uncertainty, whether my film, The Wife will release in theatres or on an OTT platform or even if it will ever release or not! Overall, it was a mentally and emotionally draining time for me to be honest.
Yet again, the film industry has been affected by the second wave of COVID-19. Did you see it coming?
Well in all honesty, nobody saw it coming. I had never thought that we would face a lockdown again. I thought we had all finally learnt to take care of ourselves by wearing a mask and taking all the precautions as instructed by the government bodies since we learned the value of life as we know it. I had never imagined that we would face this situation all over again but since cases have drastically increased and precautions were ought to be taken, the lockdown was the only solution left. Our shoots are also shut in the city among other industries. Fortunately, I have got a few upcoming projects and I will be leaving the city soon with all the necessary precautions of course.
Despite all precautions, actors are the only ones not supposed to wear a mask while filming so do you think this is why they are getting more affected?
Everyone wears a mask while working in their respective fields be it, doctors or any other professional. Working as an actor, we have to work without a mask with all keeping in mind all the precautionary measures and guidelines. We always wear a mask during our rehearsals but, when we are shooting on set we have to work without a mask on. I feel our field is at a very high risk while working. As dedicated actors, we have to work hard especially for our audience and fans. We are at the stage where most of them have already contracted COVID-19 and some may get it now, but that doesn’t mean we get scared of the virus and sit at home. I always think that if people are fit from the inside and pay attention to their health then one can easily fight this virus and the pandemic. If your immunity and inner health are not strong enough then you cannot fight the coronavirus. It is very important to keep yourself fit and follow a proper diet. While we actors have to work during this pandemic and travel outside to different places for shooting, I am keeping myself fit and healthy so that I can work even more in this situation. Earlier, I used to work out once a day. Now keeping the current scenario in mind, I work out twice a day and I am following a good diet with cardio and weight training.
How are you feeling about films getting postponed and the uncertainty around their release?
We all are going through such difficult times with the rising cases and much more. Keeping the industry in mind, we are going through many ups and downs. Some films are not released in cinema halls. Even if they are releasing, the audience isn’t visiting theatres. We wanted to release my film The Wife in theatres but with the lockdown situation and rising cases, we eventually released it on an OTT platform. Personally, I feel the fun we get while watching the movie in a cinema is incomparable to anywhere else. There are many films which are on hold from the last one or one and a half years. I don’t think a film will be released in theatres in the coming three to four months. With such rising COVID-19 cases we don’t know if the audience would visit the theatres to watch a film. OTT platforms played a huge role during these pandemic times. OTT is very strong and the audiences are loving and enjoying the content on it. In theatres, a film would be in the news all the time during its release, but after some time it wouldn’t work in theatres much and the buzz would eventually die down. But, the brownie point for OTT is that if any film or series is released on these various platforms, people can watch it anytime, anywhere and there would still be a buzz around it even if it was released a while ago. My film which was released a month ago on OTT, people are still watching and loving my performance in it. They comment on my post, appreciate my work and I am overwhelmed with their love and support towards me. Though I love watching movies on the big screen in theatres, I dearly miss my movie nights and the joy of watching a film in cinema halls with friends and family. I just pray that we fight this situation soon and we all can visit the theatres again with ease.
The second wave has added more heartburn to the film industry with thousands affected and out of jobs. How do you think the fraternity will cope with this new wave?
In our industry, we have many good people around who are always ready to help someone when in need. I always assure to help people around me be it a lightman, spotboy or anyone else for that matter. In these times, the industry has to unite and act as one. It’s then that we can pull through this situation. We have to be one body and I feel that if I am from this industry it is my responsibility to help everyone from the industry. Many people in the film industry are lending a helping hand in these tough times and I highly appreciate them!