KOCHI: Call it a tribute in celluloid to those who risked their lives to combat the Nipah outbreak. A year after the attack of Nipah, which had no vaccination and which at one point threatened to consume Kozhikode district, filmmaker Aashiq Abu has come out with the movie ‘Virus’, which portrays the battle against the virus outbreak and how it was contained.
“What would have been a big tragedy was overcome by a group of people – the officers of the Health Department, the class IV employees, virologists, and, of course, the services rendered by the private hospitals, their nurses and doctors - with their sheer commitment and determination, fully knowing that death loomed on the other side,” said Abu, who is planning a worldwide release of the film on June 7. A disease without vaccination, and when no one knew how to move forward, how did the people of the area react? This will be a key aspect of the movie. “
In fact, the situation was so alarming at one point that it looked as if the entire Kozhikode district, especially Perambra and Kozhikode city, was heading for a quarantine. There was a situation of social boycotting. Over 3,000 people were quarantined by the state government, and they were sent food and other essential items separately. So, a situation was developing which we have not faced ever; or the thought that an entire town in our state was going through a situation which we have seen only in films like ‘Contagion’ was frightening,” he said.
Writer Muhsin Parari’s cousin was a doctor working in the Emergency Department of Kozhikode Medical College when the Nipah outbreak happened. “So, he knew what was happening and came up with the story idea,” said Abu.
The cast includes Kunchacko Boban, Revathy, Tovino Thomas, Parvathy, Rima Kallingal, Soubin Shahir, Indrajith Sukumaran, Joju George and Dileesh Pothen.
The film mainly focused on the developments as it unfurled at the PWD Guest House, where Minister Shylaja and other key officers camped during the Nipah, and the Medical College, where the patients were brought in. “Those were the important areas for the film; the source,” said Abu.
“In fact, Fahad was in the original cast, but he had issues with the date and could not be part of the film. The shooting clashed with his schedule,” Aashiq said, adding every actor has played their part in amazing perfection.”
‘Virus’, Abu said, was planned for release much before the elections, but the post-production work got delayed. “Through the movie, we are trying to bring out the collective spirit that worked behind to contain the deadly virus,” he said.
How will the audience react to the movie, which comes amid high hopes and expectations? The challenge for us is to keep the excitement level high throughout the movie. Will Aashiq succeed in this mission? To know that we will have to wait for some more days.