National Award-winning filmmaker Vinod Kapri’s new documentary “1232 Kms” is garnering praise for the depth with which it chronicles the ordeal of migrant workers during the nationwide lockdown last year. Opening up on why he decided to make a film on this subject, informed Kapri saying, “When lockdown was announced on March 24, 2020, from the very next day, I saw a lot of news on the channels and social media that people were migrating back to their villages by walking thousands of kilometres and cycling thousands of miles. I was very curious to understand what their journey was like, what kind of struggles they were facing, how they are getting food and where they are going.”
Journalist-turned-filmmaker Kapri joined a group of migrant workers as they pedalled for several hours every day across highways, villages and towns, travelling on bicycles from Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, to Saharsa, Bihar, a distance of 1232 kilometres.
“I was in touch with a group of seven labourers for two weeks. I was providing them with ration and convincing them not to move because lockdown had just been announced and (there was) the risk of corona. I was able to hold them for two weeks. But then, without informing me, they left and after reaching about 60 kilomotres from Ghaziabad, I got to know that they had left. Then, I decided I should go to them and I googled the distance from Ghaziabad to Saharsa. It was 1232 kilometres. Initially, I was scared but then I thought if the migrants can take a decision to cycle, then why couldn’t I go out and just document the journey?” Kapril said.
Sharing his experience and the ordeal of migrants during the journey, the filmmaker revealed, “These labourers went through so many difficulties during the journey. There were instances when villagers didn’t let them drink water, thinking that they may be carrying the virus since they are coming from Delhi. Dhabas that were open wouldn’t let them stay. They met helpful people, too, like a cycle guy helped them after getting to know they had been travelling for so many days, without even taking any money from them.”
“While capturing their journey, we were clear and careful about the safety rules for the seven migrant labourers and ourselves, too, because we were not sure about where we would get food or a place to relax and take some rest, and the biggest risk was the coronavirus,” he added.
Produced and directed by Vinod Kapri, “1232 Kms” is executive produced by Guneet Monga and Smriti Mundhra. The songs have been penned by legendary lyricist Gulzar and composed by Vishal Bhardwaj. The documentary film streams on Disney+ Hotstar VIP.
–By Ahana Bhattacharya