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Thursday, July 02, 2020

Sunday Long Reads: Of Hollywood and inclusivity, lockdown and films, wildlife, bats, well-being, and more

Here is your Sunday reading list

Published: May 31, 2020 12:41:37 pm
How the 1896 plague epidemic shaped Mumbai, eye 2020, sunday eye, indian express news Workers whitewash and disinfect a “plague house” in Bombay in February, 1897.

How the 1896 plague epidemic shaped Mumbai

It was approaching winter, the final months of 1896. Bombay’s ferry lines and railway stations were swamped with people, many of them workers at mill lands and dockyards, dhobis and cooks, barbers, butchers and bakers, their meagre belongings tied up in bundles. All desperately seeking a way back home.

The scene is from more than a century ago, as various accounts of the time reported. (It was inevitable, said the Bombay Samachar in December 1896, that if the rich were fleeing the city, the poorer would follow suit.) But it could well be from the current lockdown crisis in India, where millions have been forced into similar harrowing circumstances.

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Kindness is our hope in the post-COVID-19 world

coronavirus, COVID-19, epidemic, pandemic, mental health, mindfulness, isolation, lockdown, five joy diet, community, sunday eye 2020, eye 2020, indianexpress, In times of corona, joy is not something that will come to us easily. We need to work towards it, practise it daily and deliberately. (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

It might seem a little frivolous to talk about joy in the present times of hustle, stress and survival. But, maybe, that is the reason we need it more than ever before. Joy is not optional; it is non-negotiable for us right now. We need to nourish our spirit, our families and our community in every possible way we can.

Daily practice: In times of corona, joy is not something that will come to us easily. We need to work towards it, practice it daily and deliberately. Daily, because it is so easy to slip back to our default setting of constant fear. Deliberate, as in making a ritual of setting our intention every morning and staying mindful of it as if our life depended on it. It could be as simple as, “I vow to find joy in the smallest things today.” Practice, as in accepting that it is a skill that we have to work at. It is not a destination but a direction. In the ebb and flow of life, there will be days when that joy will be light and luminous and there will be days when the darkness might seem impenetrable, leaving us with barely a flicker of the glow.

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No tequila in a world without bats

bats, eye 2020, sunday eye, indian express news No flying zone: Except for rabies and the virus responsible for Nipah, there is very little evidence of direct transmission of viruses from bats to humans.

On April 25, actor Amitabh Bachchan announced on social media that a bat had flown into his home. “Corona peecha chodh hi nahin raha,” he tweeted. It is possible that he was joking when he connected the flying mammal with the pandemic that has brought normal life to a halt. But the joke ceases to be funny when considered alongside news that people in Bengaluru have demanded that fruit-bearing trees (a primary source of food for frugivorous bats) be chopped and bat colonies removed from near their homes.

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The lockdown may ruin our protected areas and forests

coronavirus, covid-19, epidemic, pandemic, environmental clearance, national parks, wildlife, protected areas, environmental law, environmental protection Forbidden kingdom: A tiger in Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh (Source: Getty Images)

During the Covid-19 crisis, people have been thrilled by the manner in which “wildlife” has re-entered the living spaces we snatched from them. Deer have gone downtown, dolphins are frolicking in touristy waterfronts, and birds are being seen and heard as never before. But was this really such a good thing in the first place? Of course, once the lockdowns are eased and lifted, the animals and birds will retreat to their sanctuaries, so we will have simply flattered to deceive!

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Nothing can match the magic of cinema halls: Shoojit Sircar

Shoojit Sircar, Gulabo Sitabo, PVR, INOX, pandemic, epidemic, coronavirus, covid-19, Shoebite, Uddham Singh, Amitabh Bachchan, Ayushmann Khurrana, Juhi Chaturvedi, eye 2020, sunday eye, indian express, indian express news No one knows what follows after this. Definitely, there will be a financial crunch. Actors will have to reduce their fees, says Sircar.

What made you decide to premiere Gulabo Sitabo on a streaming platform?

I knew this period is going to be uncertain. When the lockdown started, the reports of the pandemic came in and the World Health Organisation announced that this virus is not going away easily, we didn’t know what to do. Then one day, I discussed this with our producers. I didn’t want to sit with the film since it was ready. We spoke with Amazon Prime Video, which has our movies October (2018) and Pink (2016). The kind of proposal they gave for the film’s release was quite lucrative for a filmmaker. I have never had this kind of release earlier. I would have experimented with the digital medium at some point. So, why not take the plunge now?

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Mindy Kaling: ‘I never saw any minority actors play lead characters in a high school movie’

mindy kaling, never have i ever, eye 2020, sunday eye, indian express news A seat at the table: Mindy Kaling (centre) with John McEnroe

In 2005, Mindy Kaling rolled into the American TV space with the hugely popular and award-winning sitcom, The Office (2005-’13), which she helped write. Her character Kelly Kapoor, an Indian girl who liked shopping and obsessed over the lives of American film stars, was a breakthrough in how Indian Americans would come to be projected on screen — self-assured, sassy and without exaggerated desi-ness. Since then, the 40-year-old Indian-American actor, writer and producer has headlined The Mindy Project (2012-’17); created another sitcom, Champions (2018), and also appeared in Ocean’s 8 (2018), alongside Rihanna, Anne Hathaway and Sandra Bullock. Born to first-generation Indian migrants in Boston — a doctor mother and an architect father — Kaling is the poster child of a new Hollywood, where people from different ethnicities are finally breaking free of stereotypes. In Never Have I Ever, a 10-part series she has created and produced for Netflix, Kaling has given the world Devi Vishwakumar, an Indian-American teenager who is as concerned about her first kiss as she is about her SAT scores. In an email interview, Kaling talks about adapting bits of her life for the show and writing real characters.

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Is Hollywood finally accepting women of colour as leads in high school dramas?

high school dramas, Hollywood, eye 2020, sunday eye, indian express The young ones: Still from The Half of It.

In one of those staple scenes of American high-school hi-jinks on screen, a simpatico teacher tells the lead character Bindu Choudry, who’s been having a really hard day, that high school is “all about finding your tribe, your posse, your band of merry-makers”.
Wait a minute, though. Lead character? A girl named Bindu? In a film set in an American high school?
That’s right. In 2019 The Miseducation Of Bindu, a debut feature by LA-based Prarthana Mohan, produced by Jay and Mark Duplass, the girl at the centre of the narrative is Indian. Bindu (Megan Suri) has been homeschooled up until now and injected into the high-school system by her overly protective mum’s (Priyanka Bose) recently-acquired white American partner (David Arquette) because he thinks she will miss out if she doesn’t get to sample the all-American high-school experience.

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