From online concerts to sceenwriting classes, celebrities lift spirits on social media in time of social distancing

The Indian film fraternity has been employing Instagram Live in ingenious ways to fight the coronavirus scare

March 21, 2020 02:05 am | Updated 01:22 pm IST - Mumbai

Inventive:  Ankur Tewari held virtual concerts on his Instagram handle and asked listeners to “pay” him in “playlists”.

Inventive: Ankur Tewari held virtual concerts on his Instagram handle and asked listeners to “pay” him in “playlists”.

Home alone, anxious and triggered in the time of social distancing? Friday evening, under the sarvayogastudios Instagram handle, musician Ankur Tewari performed live online from his home for his fans spread out far and wide across the globe.

The playlist comprised easy, soothing melodies to help people relax — from songs talking of home and nostalgia, the popular ‘ Dil beparwah’ to his signature whistling and singing in Gully Boy’s much loved ‘ Jeene mein aaye mazaa’ .

This was third of Tewari’s performances live streamed on Instagram in just a matter of one week. He held such virtual concerts from his own Instagram handle on March 15 and 18 as well, asking his listeners to “pay” him in “playlists”. He later shared those online, all to help people feel better in self-isolation. After all, as he puts it — “Music heals”.

He was instrumental is inspiring his colleague from the film industry, lyricist-singer-writer-actor Swanand Kirkire, who, thanks to the “amazing response” to a live performance on Instagram a couple of days ago, is set to do a repeat show on Saturday and again on the #JantaCurfew day.

Music is not the only way to reach out it seems. The film fraternity has been employing Instagram Live in ingenious ways, particularly uplifting in these COVID-19 inflicted times. Like filmmaker Ritesh Batra’s live screenwriting masterclass complete with an appreciation of Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen’s Singin’ in the Rain . “I do it every day in my writing break at 2 p.m. EST... We talk movies and writing and spread the word,” he writes to us, signing off with, “Stay safe and help everyone around.” Writer-lyricist-standup comic Varun Grover has been trying to talk common sense on the virus with humour thrown in, in good measure in his “rant videos” that he has been sharing on social media platforms.

Tewari took to the online world when faced with the disappointment of three of his gigs getting cancelled in the U.S. “I would have been in Los Angeles today,” he tells us. But the artiste’s itch wouldn’t still leave him. “I felt like playing for the people,” he says.

‘Impromptu, intuitive’

According to him, the online concerts have been “impromptu and intuitive, not rehearsed”. “They felt quite different from the earlier ones online. It was like people were in some Bombay pub, hanging out, listening to songs and having conversations,” he says.

Kirkire likes the flexibility and versatility. All you need is a guitar as accompaniment; perhaps not even that. He is also taken in by the interactive nature, the random requests for songs — ‘ Bawra Mann ’ and ‘ O ri Chiraiya ’. And some not even his own. “I wasn’t prepared but sang Kishore Kumar’s ‘ Eeena Meena Deeka ’ and Suresh Wadkar’s ‘ Saanjh dhale gagan tale ’ on demand,” he says.

In times when people are stranded indoors, having to fend for themselves, are all these initiatives aimed at community building? “It’s to remind ourselves that we are there for each other,” says Tewari. Kirkire feels that people are tired of consuming from the Over the Top platforms and would like newer and newer ways to stay engaged. He himself intends to start going beyond music to read poetry and prose in his future sessions. Whatever be the mode, the message to take home is simple: be responsible and avoid all social interactions.

Meanwhile, as we go to press, more such online events seem set to follow, involving independent and classical musicians. Musician Prateek Kuhad will hold one on Instagram and Facebook on March 25 in which he promises to play some new songs. The Home and the World #ShutInConcert, a Digital Carnatic Live Concert, to be held at 7.30 p.m. on March 29, aims to raise funds for artistes who have been displaced financially due to cancellations in the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak. A pay-per-access concert, which will be live streamed on, it is by and for those #TogetherAtHome and features T.M. Krishna, Akkarai Subhalakshmi, B. Sivaraman and N. Guruprasad.

Yet another event featuring Indian Ocean, Kuhad, Karsh Kale, Kamakshi Khanna, Karan Singh Magic and comics Vir Das, Aisi Taisi Democracy and others will also be streaming live soon on a computer, mobile or tablet near you.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.