‘Pandemic Burnout’, a 30-minute docu-story, starts with Anand Manmadhan, who is also the director, waking up. As it is already afternoon, he quickly clarifies he slept in late and woke up late, to let the day pass off quickly.
For him, this has become more or less a new normal since life came to a standstill post the COVID-19 outbreak. His is not an isolated case. For many actors like Anand, who had already been struggling for that ‘big break’, life is nothing but a big wait, made worse by the pandemic.
In his docu-story, Anand captures the journey, travails and pangs of artists who for the past six months have been sitting idle and penniless, without even a platform to perform.
With small-time actors and directors, who have been dreaming of cinema since childhood, narrating how they hope to see light at the end of the tunnel, the docu-series effortlessly manages to strike a chord with the viewer.
“I was doing a movie called ‘Aravam’ when we had to halt the shoot. Since then, the days have been empty. We have nothing to look forward to. My friends and I have always made short videos that humorously portrayed our struggles. Then, it occurred to me, why not do something realistic, without all the add-ons. That’s how the ‘Pandemic Burnout’ was borne. We all have bared our souls here,” says Anand.
They may have come from different backgrounds, taking different routes to their dream called cinema, but the voices heard in ‘Pandemic Burnout’ share the same zest. Come what may, their battle to get over the pandemic and live their dreams will only get stronger. Like Kannan Nayar, another actor, puts it; “There is no deadline for my struggle. It may take years, but my journey towards my goals will continue, Covid-19 or not.”
For Chandunadh, an actor who shot to fame through ‘Pathinettam Padi’, coronavirus hit when his dreams began taking wings. But, he remains enthusiastic. However, director Vinesh Viswanathan echoes the pangs of being sidelined.
“People write about how movies that were being shot had to be halted, but nobody writes or cares about movies that were supposed to happen. I have been behind a project for so long, but when it was finally happening, Covid struck. But, then it is just my loss,” says Vinesh.
Besides, the impact of Covid, ‘Pandemic Burnout’ also ventures deep into their other problems. “Our struggles have many faces. That’s why I decided to delve deep into an artist’s struggle with depression and society’s preconceived notion about us not doing anything worthwhile,” says Anand.
Sometimes wry humour conveys best. Like when PS Jayahari, an award-winning musician says how people would ask his profession.
“When I say I am a musician, they ask what else do I do, as if to convey this is not a proper profession. What else am I supposed to do?,” says Jayahari.Besides direction, Anand has also handled the editing of the docu-story. Anandhu Rajan has cranked the camera. The video is available on YouTube.