How do entertainers spread awareness about a pandemic? Team Aynabaji came up with an innovative solution. They made a 3-episode short web series with the original characters of the 2016 film and placed them in lockdown, where one of them contracted Covid-19 and is scrambling to cope up. As Chanchal Chowdhury, Masuma Rahman Nabila and Partha Barua reprise their respective roles, Amitabh Reza Chowdhury ascended the director’s chair once again, only this time each worked from their home separately. Director Amitabh Reza Chowdhury and actor Chanchal Chowdhury shared with Dhaka Tribune Showtime’s Sadia Khalid how they shot the new web series and what else they are busy with at the moment
How are you coping with the lockdown?
Chanchal: It has been almost two months. Imposing the nation-wide lockdown was necessary and inevitable. So, I am doing the best I can to keep myself busy.
Do you have any dramas coming up on Eid?
Chanchal: I shot a few episodes for a couple dramas before everything got shut down. It is sad when you think about how this is the most productive time of a year for an artist. I am not only talking about actors. Everyone involved on sets earn more at this time of the year than at any other time. If we were not living in the midst of a pandemic, there was no way I would have come home before midnight. That is how busy we all were supposed to be.
But this pandemic is bigger than any of our celebrations. If we go through this now, maintaining all precautions, we will sooner or later come out the other side and reunite with our friends and colleagues.
Your son worked in the Ghore Boshe Aynabaji webseries.
Chanchal: He did. My son, Shuddha, who is 12 years old now, worked behind the camera. I am very proud of him. Usually, I don’t allow him on set because a part of me always worries as to whether he is safe and that hinders my work. But I had no one to run the camera and Amitabh bhai suggested that I involved my son in the process. Well, I asked him. And he seemed more than eager. Everyone in my family played a vital role.
What did he shoot with?
Chanchal: My iPhone and a fifteen-year old tripod.
How difficult was your job as a director since the shooting took place indoors?
Amitabh: Very. We were not really prepared for it. I certainly was not. We only took a couple reshoots and tried to make the best out of the footage I was given by the actors.
How different was your script in light of the difficulties imposed by lockdown?
Amitabh: It was very brief. There was a lot of space for improvisation. We only wanted to address some of the core themes, including the stigma that haunts a coronavirus patient and his or her family.
What did you think of the script?
Chanchal: Amitabh bhai always sends me the best stuff. We go way back. So I have that kind of unwavering faith in his creative vision. So I was pretty comfortable with my role even before I took a single glance at the script.
Chanchal bhai, two of your movies, Hawa and Paap Punno, are also stuck.
Chanchal: Yes, the shooting and the dubbing are done. As soon as lockdown is over, I am expecting that these movies will at once hit the theatres.
Do you feel like you are repeating yourself, that you might be stuck in an Aynabaji universe?
Amitabh: I don’t think so. I have worked in multiple projects later. We are going back, only because people are familiar with the Aynabaji characters. I wanted to tell a story about our dire situation through characters who will strike a chord with the public. These extraordinary circumstances required these characters to return, that is all.
Besides, I am not even that proud of my work in Aynabaji. I am just grateful that some people loved it.
How are you spending your time?
Amitabh: I chat with my colleagues and friends daily for two hours via Zoom. I am currently delving into Joseph Campbell’s oeuvre and loving it.
Any last words for our readers?
Amitabh: Help your kin, next door neighbours, and anyone you can for that matter. I hear Dhaka Tribune has launched an initiative titled Share Your Meal. I would urge people to donate if they can.
Chanchal: I am echoing what Amitabh bhai said. Come forward with the little that you have. Help anyone you can.