From yoga and auditions to dance classes: Bollywood goes online as coronavirus shuts down industry
The novel coronavirus outbreak in the country may have brought the ever-bustling film industry to a halt but it hasn't stopped Bollywood celebrities from utilising their massive online influence to entertain their followers as well as engage them in fitness, dance, and yoga routines.
According to the Health Ministry, coronavirus cases in India rose to 258 on Saturday after 35 fresh ones were reported in various parts of the country.
As the government encourages social distancing and people heed PM Narendra Modi's janat curfew call, people from the film fraternity are finding ways to connect to people and ensure their self isolation isn't wasted.
Focus on staying fit
On Sunday, actor Shilpa Shetty will hold a special live fitness session across digital platforms for people to follow from home.
"In times like these, it's important to stay fit, active, and healthy. Join me on Sunday, 22nd March at 4:00 pm IST as I go LIVE on Instagram-Facebook-Helo (@theshilpashetty) and on the @ShilpaShettyApp to show you some beneficial and helpful yoga asanas.
"You can watch, learn, and practice it from the comfort of your homes. Remember, staying indoors shouldn't be an excuse for deviating from your fitness routine," the actor wrote in an Instagram post.
Online yoga and fitness programs are picking up steam, with many celebrities pitching in.
On Saturday, actor Tamannah Bhatia went live with Diva Yoga, a studio section of a larger yoga ecosystem called SARVA, where she participated in a one-hour virtual yoga class, to encourage people to pursue their fitness goals.
Malaika Arora, Co-founder of the yoga studio, said as the world fights a public health crisis, "we must do our best to stay calm and safe".
She said there was also a need to boost immunity levels even if it means continuing workouts from home. The live sessions being conducted on the Diva Studio's Instagram handle and immunity boosting modules being shared on the SARVA app and website are aimed at this.
"Our instructors will offer guided lessons every day... for everyone's benefit. I encourage people to join in and be responsible for your own health. When you are fit and healthy, you can help others in a better manner. It is these small steps that will lead to a better outcome," Malaika said.
With everything coming to a standstill, choreographer Terence Lewis has also figured out an alternate avenue to reach out to his students: online classes.
As of now, those who are not his students do not have the access, but Terence said that was going to change soon.
"In a few days, we will be starting online dance tutorials for people who have no access and means to be a part of our institute directly. Since, we do not have any branches, neither do I believe in having one, we directly teach from our original space in Andheri.
"Here we have instructors who have learnt from me...we'll think of doing online classes as a way of engaging with people who are far away from us," he said.
Auditions at home
As shootings of movies, TV shows, and web series stand suspended till March 31, casting director and actor Abhishek Banerjee is encouraging artistes to send self-tapes from their homes.
"We are encouraging that to minimise human-to-human contact and audition spaces. Some actors are known to us, some unknown. It's very difficult to track anybody's health of you don't know the person. So, it's easier to see tapes and keep shortlisting them; maybe, we will call them again for a proper audition when everything is alright," he said.
The process of recording a self audition, according to the "Stree" actor, isn't easy.
"Full marks and respect for actors who are sending self-tapes because the audition process takes a lot of efforts and to do that alone, without any help, in isolation, without cues, it's commendable."
Abhishek, who runs Casting Bay, a leading casting studios, along with his friend Anmol Ahuja, said on an average, any big casting office had around 100-150 footfalls everyday, which has now come to a griding halt.
"The minute the government decided, we stopped all auditions too. Everything is at a standstill now. Production houses have asked us to hold auditions and projects. The major worry is that many actors will have date issues now. Once everything opens in April, let's see how to tackle that. It'll be a very difficult situation," Abhishek said.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)