How a Twitter challenge during the lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19 results in a spurt of home-made videos on social media

Sherga Sandeep’s ‘KTC potluck’ video on the culinary wealth of Kozhikode   | Photo Credit: special arrangement


When the pandemic and the lockdown that followed suddenly erased packed calendars, people made use of the space to catch up with each other. For author Rachna Bisht, it gave her the time to get back in touch with college friends, 30 years after graduating from St John’s College, Agra. “We turn 50 this year and a Zoom chat led to an idea to do a hip number to celebrate our student days when we wore salwar-kameez and had oily plaits. We jived to ‘Jab chaye, mera jadoo’. It is quite a hit now,” says the Delhi-based writer. Rachna also edited a video for her family, subsequently: the age of the participants ranged from two to ninety.

Author Rachna Bisht

Author Rachna Bisht   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

Learning the ropes

Despite restrictions, get-togethers, partying, dancing, team sports and song sessions are on in full flow, but on social media. Across continents, families are coming up with creative ideas and collaborating as cousins match steps, plate dinner and send notes to each other on videos that are shared enthusiastically on social media. Friends and alumni groups too are not far behind in making well-edited videos that show off their camaraderie.


This trend of home videos began with the #DontRushChallenge on Twitter. Set to a song of the same name, ‘Don’t Rush’ by Young T & Bugsey, the video showed seven students of the University of Hull in UK transforming themselves with make-up.

Guide for dummies
  • Pooja Vrijmohan T has a few tips for those aspiring to make their own video. “Have a micro-script and share it with all participants. This will help them decide where and when to enter, exit, where to look and so on. It also helps the editor. Choose a catchy piece of music that is familiar to most actors in the video. Mobile apps like PowerDirector, Final Cut Pro, KineMaster can be used to edit the videos.”

Some of the videos tend to go viral, and are often the ones that pack in a little bit of humour, song or dance, like the video of 60 doctors in OT scrubs jiving to Pharrell Williams’ song ‘Happy’. Titled ‘Song of hope,’ the video features medical practitioners from Chennai, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, Indore, Surat, Pune, Lucknow, Kochi, Kannur, Kolkata, Kanyakumari and other cities.

Dr. Parasuram Gopinath and Meenu Batra Parasuram

Dr. Parasuram Gopinath and Meenu Batra Parasuram   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

“90% of the dancers are gynaecologists. All of us are working around the clock even during lockdown as babies can’t wait, but we are worried about infections. So we were discussing a project to emphasise the importance of mental and emotional health during these trying times. That is how we decided to do this film. A Surat-based friend, Dr Pooja Nadkarni Singh, got in touch with Rahul Kedia who directed and edited the film,” says Dr Parasuram Gopinath, a gynaecologist and obstetrician in Kochi. He shows off his dance moves in the company of his wife, Meenu Batra Parasuram, a radiologist.

Dr Erika Patel

Dr Erika Patel   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

Chennai-based Dr Erika Patel, a fertility specialist, laughs while talking about her nimble movies even when she is eight months into her pregnancy. “Rahul divided the song into six parts and told each of us how to go about it. In this rather tense situation, it was fun to do the film,” she says.


This idea of having fun is what motivated mom and entrepreneur, Anita George, to rope in 12 of her friends, all from Chennai, to come together for a funky film that shows them pursuing their interests despite the lockdown. “I wanted to show that even while being quarantined at home, we can be active and pursue what we enjoy doing,” says Anita.

Anita George

Anita George   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

“[Anita] took a great deal of trouble to come up with an idea that shows us following our passion while at home and practising social distancing,” says TV anchor and radio jockey, Paloma Rao, adding, “She told us how to pass the props, and later edited the entire film. It was a fun thing to do and I liked the idea of women supporting women.”

Paloma Rao, TV anchor and RJ

Paloma Rao, TV anchor and RJ   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

Another film that is making the rounds is a celebration of the culinary ‘jugad’ of Kozhikode. Made by producer Sherga Sandeep, her siblings, their cousins and children, the video features 18 people. “It was suggested by my niece Pooja Vrijmohan T. Since all of us are devotees of food, we decided to do one that showcased our skill as cooks. Nine of us cousins and our children, living in the US, Australia and India, took part in the video,” says Sherga. Since then, Sherga’s sisters and cousins have come up with more such videos that capture the fun times the cousins have when they gather for holidays and functions.

Entrepreneur Shweta Subash

Entrepreneur Shweta Subash   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

The same spirit brought together a bunch of amateur footballers, whose day job is being lawyers at the Kochi High Court. “On weekends, we used to play ‘sevens’, a kind of abridged football match popular in Malappuram, on an artificial turf called the ‘Jogo boys’. Although we have moved to another turf, we retained the name. The lockdown stopped the matches. That is when some of us wondered if we could kick off with a video to recall those good times,” says Millu Dandapani. Each of them shot in their homes and sent the videos to lawyer Vishnu Sharesh in Kannur, who edited it into a seamless clip that shows them passing, kicking and defending.

Former students of Calicut and Alappuzha medical colleges, the National Institute of Technology, Calicut, and schools across Kerala have all come up with their own films. For instance, Tisha Mathew and Jino Jose got 45 of their batchmates in St Thomas Residential School in Thiruvananthapuram to participate in a song-and-dance routine. Tisha says that it was an interesting way for the friends to connect many years after they left school as they are scattered over different continents. Similarly for ENT specialist Kala P, a dance video compiled by the 44th batch of doctors from the Calicut Medical College helped the Mumbai-settled health professional to forget work-related worries for a while.

Tisha Mathew and Jino Jose with their families

Tisha Mathew and Jino Jose with their families   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

“The idea is to live life to the fullest,” says film choreographer Sajna Najam. “Our extended family are our best friends too and we used to hang out a lot. We felt isolated during the lockdown and that is when I thought of a dance video. I suggested we pay a tribute to our family friend and relative, the late (actor) Prem Nazir. They joined in with gusto,” she says.

Their video has 22 family members grooving to the feisty old number ‘Chettikulangara Bharani Naalil’. “A family may not be perfect but to stay united is what is important,” Sajna adds.

Screenshot of Sajna Najam’s family’s dance video

Screenshot of Sajna Najam’s family’s dance video   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

For a noble cause

In the case of eight women entrepreneurs from Kochi, helping local farmers and motivating consumers to buy local was what made them do a video promoting pineapple. “Jeemol Koruth Verghese, one of my close friends and a baker, told me that instead of requesting people to buy, perhaps a funky video would attract eyeballs,” explains Diwia Thomas.

Indu Jayaram, Jeemol Koruth Verghese, Linda Rakhesh, Asha Suresh, Bobby Antony, Nimin Hilal and Diwia Thomas are the eight women entrepreneurs from Kochi who shot a video to help local farmers

Indu Jayaram, Jeemol Koruth Verghese, Linda Rakhesh, Asha Suresh, Bobby Antony, Nimin Hilal and Diwia Thomas are the eight women entrepreneurs from Kochi who shot a video to help local farmers   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

Although greenhorns in filmmaking, they shot their part on smartphones, and then Diwia got Anish Babu Verghese, an award-winning ad filmmaker, to edit the video.

Women entrepreneurs

“Within five hours of us posting it, it went viral. But what was satisfying was that since then, farmer Bipin Vasu, the reason why we made the video, has been selling a truckload of pineapples in Kochi every day. We did not stop with that. We also started a Facebook page ‘Love local buy local’ that has details of farmers selling their produce,” adds Diwia.

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Printable version | Nov 26, 2020 2:05:49 AM |

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