On March 24, 2020, prime minister Narendra Modi announced a nationwide lockdown in India to rein in the spread of Covid-19. This was a massive step for a densely populated country, and while much needed, would be a challenge to implement.
Along with Waatavaran Foundation, Jhatkaa.org released a series of short, snappy videos to create awareness around WHO’s health guidelines for the pandemic. Using tropes from popular Bollywood films such as Sholay, Deewar, Dil Chahta Hai, Jab We Met and Amar Akbar Anthony, these videos humorously broke down messages on the importance of handwashing, staying home, and physical distancing.
As time progressed, there were other critical issues that came to the fore. For instance, people on the frontlines like healthcare workers, Covid patients (and those who had recovered), were facing stigma from people in their neighbourhood. A video by veteran actor Raghuvir Yadav, titled Soch Badlo, tackled this with a strong message. It appealed to citizens not to discriminate and to stay united in the fight against the virus.
Another featuring actress Sandhya Mridul threw a light on the increasing cases of domestic violence India was witnessing in the lockdown period. Millions of women were trapped in challenging situations with their abusers, with no immediate respite. Through the video, she urged citizens to break their silence, even if they were not involved but were witness to these cases.
The mass reach and media coverage these videos received has served as a timely reminder of the importance of creative messaging. Especially for critical issues at a time when fears and anxieties are at an all time high.