Star Cast: Ritesh Kumar Pandit, Ashish Kumar, Ram Babu Pandit, Mukesh Kumar, Krishna, Sonu Kumar, Sandeep Kumar and Vinod Kapri.
Director: Vinod Kapri
What’s Good: A possible realisation of the privilege the person watching this documentary has. The lockdown was cruel on the have-nots, and we need to hear their stories.
What’s Bad: Nothing in the documentary but the government negligence in looking after its citizens’ safety.
Loo Break: Please don’t; it is 90 minutes of a slap on the face of our privilege and how we thought the pandemic has only affected us the most.
Watch or Not?: Watch it for sure, see Kapri talk about the pandemic, the effects, the dignity of labour, empathy in the society and in the larger context try and create a satire that opens eyes.
Backed by some of the most influential voices in the business, including Vishal Bharadwaj, Gulzar Sahab, Guneet Monga and a few others, 1232 KMS talks about the largest human exodus post the Indo-Pak partition. In March 2020, the government of India imposed a lockdown due to the Coronavirus outbreak that hit the world at different wavelengths. The immigrants faced the most brutal wrath.
1232 KMS Movie Review: Script Analysis
All you upper/middle-class folks, what was your biggest “samasyaa” post the lockdown was imposed? Scarcity of coffee to make the trendy Dalgona? Or the supermarkets running out of stock on cakery ingredients? Some of us, and the ignored of us, were away from home, without food, sanitation and at the risk of dying, if not due to COVID-19, then hunger.
Vinod Kapri, a Journalist and a filmmaker set out on a journey to shoot his conceptualised and written documentary. The filmmaker is keen on showing you the most brutal side of the pandemic. A group of 7 men set out on a 1232 Kms journey on their bicycles, packing with them as much as they can. All the way on a 7-day trip, Kapri follows them, helps them and meanwhile films them so we privileged can see how blessed we are to not be in their shoes (they are riding their bicycles under the harsh sun, wearing worn-out slippers).
There are problems. These men who work as daily wage labourers begin to tell them. Some of them have just bought the cycles so they could set out on this journey. They had to ask for money from their families. With 1232 KMS, Vinod Kapri not only manages to talk about the problem at the surface level. He tries and gets to the root of the debate. A traveller even talks about the negligence by the people in power in general. Another even says, the rich bring the disease, and the poor have to suffer. And that is where Kapri decides to go more profound, it seems.
In a few opening shots of the documentary, you see the men showing us the food that they were offered. We don’t know where it came from, but what we do know is that it wasn’t edible enough for humans to eat. As the man with the ‘roti’ (Indian bread) in hand says, ‘dekho kutta bhi nhi khaega ye’. Imagine having to go through that? Kapri builds the plot well. He tells us how a lot of boiling in the pot called society, has led to these men seeking freedom or refuge in their hometowns risking their lives. The filmmaker even goes on asking each one of them about the massive risk they have taken.
I don’t want to elaborate more on the journey, as it might kill the essence for you. What I want to address is when all of these people reach the isolation centres build by the “government”. The dirt all over, the lack of sanitation and sanitisation (in a COVID-19 centre). The 7 reach their hometown on the 7th day and are not given food to eat for a whole day. Neither are they allowed to move on themselves so they could arrange food. When Kapri goes on asking the officials in charge with his camera, they blame the next in the hierarchy. A thing our country highly functions on.
It is an earnest effort in showing you what the have nots dealt with and are still dealing in some parts of the country. It is about an exodus we living in our comfort were not even aware of. Vinod has managed to be their voice, and it deserved audience.
1232 KMS Movie Review: Star Performance
These are real people who have faced the wrath of the pandemic in the most brutal way first hand. Imagine cycling in your air-conditioned gym for more than an hour. These men cycled for seven days, under the fierce May sun, without food sometimes.
When one of the men says he has a brother left behind and has no idea of his whereabouts; I felt sad. But my heart broke into pieces due to what he said next. He says something to the effect of, “what can I do? I have to keep going towards home. At least one son needs to reach home alive. In case the other is dead, one needs to be there to conduct the deceased’s last rites”. Do you still find your problems bigger than these?
Vinod Kapri, time and again, makes appearances himself and kudos to the man who risked his life in a way as well. He goes to the deep end of the places these men go. The filmmaker even managed to enter the dirty isolation centre.
1232 KMS Movie Review: Direction, Music
Vinod Kapri deserves every bit of accolade for showing the world what the exodus, that we didn’t even realise was so massive, looked like. In his direction, the filmmaker doesn’t rely on voiceovers (and it is such a breeze of fresh air). Kapri lets the men tell their stories in their voice and conscience.
Top of all, I am amazed at how the man is quick at decisions about what needs to be captured. A man faints from his bicycle in the dark. Kapri runs to help but never stops recording. A police officer helps them and is a good soul, Kapri zooms in his Uniform, and we see he has no badges or achievements. Maybe this was his way of telling not all worthy are appreciated. Perhaps I am reading too much between the lines.
In his direction, the filmmaker also tries to trigger discomfort in you. For this, he shows you the dirt on Ritesh’s body when he is bathing in super zoom multiple times. Or he pans his camera multiple times in the untidy isolation centre. These might pass just as normal shots if you don’t give it a thought. But imagine the times we are in and assess.
The music is composed by Vishal Bharadwaj, penned by Gulzar Sahab, sung by Rekha Bharadwaj & Sukhwinder Singh. Do I even need to tell you how hard-hitting and alarming the soundtracks are? O Re Bidesiya is a ballad that will haunt me for quite some time.
The frames in the documentary deserve a special mention. In the beginning, when almost thousands are walking by the sides of the roads, and suddenly some two-wheelers pass by, it hits hard. When a man from the seven is crying, looking at his mother over a video call, the camera goes right into his face super zoom in. It all adds on in the complete experience.
1232 KMS Movie Review: The Last Word
It isn’t just another documentary that’s preachy and self-indulgent. It is an effort to show you what the pandemic looked like for the people neglected. What it looked for the people who were uninformed, and without resources. Watch 1232 KMS to have a sense of empathy, if you don’t. Ask questions, demand answers, maybe that’s how the faults and chinks in the system will improve, and the have nots will have a better world to live in. You can watch the documentary on Disney Plus Hotstar.
1232 KMS Trailer
1232 KMS releases on 24 March, 2021.
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