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The living room edit: A social distancing to-do list curated by the film fraternity

Leading names from the entertainment industry curate viewing lists, and share their living room experiences to tide us over social distancing in this critical period

They say, rules are meant to be broken. We say, don’t. For some, the suddenly-imposed social distancing has a strange way of playing mind games. Misanthropes may get a strong urge to party, children and parents may drive each other up the wall. But while seclusion, and the uncertainty about coronavirus, could take a toll on our mental health — loneliness, anxiety about the future, concern for loved ones — it can also be a time to rediscover simple pleasures. Creative people across the world are sharing how self-isolation needn’t be all bad; they do it all the time, to introspect, learn, create. And they are extending a helping hand, curating what we could try in the days to come to keep our sanity and sense of self intact.

 

The living room edit: A social distancing to-do list curated by the film fraternity

Naseeruddin Shah, actor-filmmaker

I’ve been catching up with the Anthony Burgess books I haven’t yet read. There are few better writers of the English language; I’d suggest giving him and Bernard Shaw a try. Read and spend time with the family rather than binge-watching some series. I’ve also been [brushing up on] Urdu poetry and teaching myself to read and write the script since it is time [approaching three score and ten and possibly Alzheimer’s!] that one must learn something new.

The living room edit: A social distancing to-do list curated by the film fraternity

Adil Hussain, actor

With shoots cancelled, I’m mostly watching films at home. I spend most of my free time reading pending scripts. I’m watching films and shows [many recommended by friends] on OTT platforms. Succession; Nadine Labaki’s Capernaum; The Loudest Voice on the CEO of Fox News, Roger Ailes — it has Russell Crowe in a fantastic performance after Beautiful Mind. I found the documentaries Dirty Money and The Bleeding Edge very revealing. I’m also working my way through a hard drive with films curated by my acting teacher in Pondicherry. I saw this wonderful Chinese film from 2013, The Nightingale, directed by Philippe Muyl. I think Mubi has some wonderfully-curated films.

The living room edit: A social distancing to-do list curated by the film fraternity

Twinkle Khanna, actor-author-columnist

Self isolating is not unique for people who write; I’ve had periods when I am trying to finish a manuscript. The only conundrum this time: you have a house full of people competing for the remote and desk space. I am trying to do an interesting experiment where we can all give each other space and yet do things together. So I am reading books based on movies and then watching the movie with my family. We are watching Electric Dreams on Amazon Prime Video and I am rereading an anthology by Philip K Dick. Strangely enough I never got around to reading RK Narayan’s Malgudi Days, so I am ordering a copy of Swami and Friends and then will see that on Prime as well. Since F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is part of my son’s course work, we will also watch the movie. I’ve had Satyajit Ray’s Feluda Omnibus for a while and plan to do the same [read it and then watch the adaptation], so we can all discuss it together. I am listening to podcasts like the Slate’s The Secret History of the Future while I walk my dogs. I’ve visited the Van Gogh exhibit at the Tate last year, but now want to take a virtual tour of the one in Amsterdam. A lot of museums have virtual tours, so this would be the time to travel the world of art without leaving your couch. And finally, I had signed up for a masterclass with Margaret Atwood — because I adore her — and now I may just find the time to do it.

 

The living room edit: A social distancing to-do list curated by the film fraternity

Richa Chadha, actor

I’m watching everything I think I should catch up on and some releases that I missed, like the Ayushmann Khurrana-starrer Dream Girl and director Rohena Gera’s Sir. I’m also watching High Maintenance on Hotstar, though I’m a little late to the party. Like the rest of the world, I watched Contagion and now I am watching Pandemic. I am also reading a book by [Serbian political activist] Srdja Popovic called Blueprint for Revolution, which is about laughter and activism. I’m enjoying my other hobbies, too, like gardening on my balcony. I’m getting back to a lot of work I had left behind and I’m writing my book finally [on an outsider’s struggle in Bollywood]. I worked on a pitch presentation for a show last night, for something that Ali [Fazal] and I are trying to set up. Comfort film:Mr India. Read:Autobiography of a Yogi because it is about spirituality and happiness. Watch: documentaries on health, environment and sustainability like What The Health and Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret.

The living room edit: A social distancing to-do list curated by the film fraternity

Rasika Dugal,actor

I’ve scheduled specific activities for myself. A running challenge — 3 km a day for 10 days. I’ve always been scared of committing to a challenge, so this is a new one for me. I am two days down, let’s see how I fare. This is in addition to my regular workout/yoga class (we might all need good immunity soon). I am starting music classes from Monday. I love singing; it calms me. I’ve also signed up for a free online course on edX — on religion, conflict and peace. With all that’s been happening in our country, I’ve felt a sense of hopelessness like never before. An academic insight into polarisation and religious conflict might help. Meanwhile, I’m cooking — the only skill I feel I imbibed genetically. I’m also reading my backlog of scripts and watching a film or a series every day. Having just finished The Spy, I’m now watching Unbelievable. I would recommend I Lost My Body, a drama/fantasy animation film. Beautifully scripted and skilfully visualised, it takes you through a journey of loneliness and love in a city. A Marriage Story is another. I think the subject [a marriage gone wrong], though fairly common, is one of the hardest to capture in cinema. Yet this film makes you feel the frustration, sadness and confusion of a failing marriage as if you are in it. And, finally, Gulon mein rang bhare. Currently on top of my list of favourites is Ali Sethi’s version (from Coke Studio season 12) of the Faiz Ahmad Faiz ghazal. Interestingly, it was written when he was in jail in Rawalpindi in 1954.

The living room edit: A social distancing to-do list curated by the film fraternity

Santosh Sivan, cinematographer-filmmaker

I am all alone in Mumbai, feeding my fish, doing terrace gardening, reading and browsing. I’m watching the web series, Abstract: The Art of Design on Netflix, reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time and listening to world music.

The living room edit: A social distancing to-do list curated by the film fraternity

Kajal Aggarwal, actor

Among podcasts, I enjoy listening to [Indian American entrepreneur and investor] Naval Ravikant. I love how he talks about his learnings and gives his suggestions. This confidence comes from a place of knowledge and time invested in reading. The Stuff You Should Know podcast, hosted by Josh Clark and Charles W Chuck Bryant, is super interesting. I [often catch] Ted Talks and one of my favourite motivational speakers is Brene Brown. I also listen to Simon Sinek. There are a lot more fantastic talks out there. I like listening to audio books, especially while cooking, working out [doing my cardio] or any activity that doesn’t require my 100% attention. Listening to these while completing your mundane chores is a great way to multitask and make it interesting.

The living room edit: A social distancing to-do list curated by the film fraternity

Anurag Kashyap,filmmaker

You should watch nothing soppy because that will make you touch your face to wipe away the tears. Or even horror because that will also make you touch your face. I would suggest thrillers and drama: Watchmen, the series; all seasons of Breaking Bad; Succession;stand-up comics; and the entire body of work of your favourite directors.

The living room edit: A social distancing to-do list curated by the film fraternity

Taapsee Pannu, actor

Honestly, I am just catching up on films that I missed watching last year and reading all the scripts [on which] I have to get back with an answer. I rarely watch films multiple times; I feel you’re wasting time when there are so many new ones you can watch. My advice to the homebound: watch Homeland.

The living room edit: A social distancing to-do list curated by the film fraternity

Bina Paul, film editor

I’m watching feel-good films. It is not the time to feel depressed and sad. My selection includes Hollywood classics such as Casablanca, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Sting, Roman Holiday, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, etc. Then there are some really good Iranian films to binge watch — works by Majid Majidi, Abbas Kiarostami and Jafar Panâhi. Old Indian films are always a favourite, like Guide, Umrao Jaan and DDLJ. It is also a good time to catch some good documentaries on Netflix.

The living room edit: A social distancing to-do list curated by the film fraternity

Geetu Mohandas, actor-director

I’m not someone who binge watches. I enjoy my solitude and, when I am on a break, I enjoy reading. Right now, I am re-reading for the nth time Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide. He is one of my favourite authors. At one time, I wanted to adapt his Sea of Poppies and I wrote to him in Goa. He said the rights of the book were with someone else. However, I am so happy I was able to interact with him. In addition, I am fine-tuning my script for my next film. It is in the last stages. Now that my daughter, Aradhana, is at home, my ‘me time’ is extremely limited. I have to keep her engaged. She is allowed only one hour of TV viewing. So I am really busy.

The living room edit: A social distancing to-do list curated by the film fraternity

Rajiv Menon,director

I was running a writers’ room that, of course, has been put on hold. But I still come into the office to write. This time has also given me a chance to catch up on fiction books. I just finished A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman; it was light reading. Apart from Carnatic music, I’ve been listening to ‘The Planets’ [a seven-movement orchestral suite] by English composer Gustav Holst. From the UK Top 40, my picks are ‘Blinding Lights’ by The Weeknd and the new James Bond track, ‘No Time to Die’, by Billie Eilish. It is quite distinct from earlier Bond theme songs, and I like the lyrics as well. I managed to watch a couple of Malayalam movies too — Anjaam Pathiraa and Ayyappanum Koshiyum. The latter’s soundtrack was also great.

The living room edit: A social distancing to-do list curated by the film fraternity

Manoj Bajpayee, actor

I am stuck in Uttarakhand as my shoot got suspended for 10 days. I’m catching up on films and TV shows. I watched The Irishman twice. It is a must for actors. I am amazed at the sheer persistence of the legends to evolve at this age. I recommend Succession. There is something about the show that is so damn exciting. Apart from the performances, it is the complications and unpredictability of the relationship that I found so intriguing. Fleabag is also a must for all, just to see the brilliance of every department, all in sync. It is a great series to catch while you are isolated.

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Printable version | Apr 3, 2020 2:00:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/the-living-room-edit-a-social-distancing-to-do-list-curated-by-the-film-fraternity/article31119450.ece

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