Well-known TV, film, and web actor Rajeev Khandelwal, who is featuring in ZEE5 short film Heartbeat spoke to IWMBUZZ about the same and the possible effects of the Coronavirus outbreak on the entertainment industry.
Your take on Heartbeat?
A very poignant love story dwelling on the moral dilemma of discontinuing life support of a terminally ill vegetative patient. It is a tough call to balance emotion and economics with the harsh truth that your loved one is now just an artificially kept alive body. There is also the issue of what people will say. If you ask me personally, I am pro-euthanasia.
Doctor in the current outbreak are similarly playing God deciding which patient has a better recovery prognosis was given the scarcity of resources?
I salute our front line medical professionals fighting this scrouge putting their lives on the lines. Being an atheist, I think today, the doctors are our new God, with all religious places of worship shut. Ironically till a month back, we were fighting about where to build the mandir/masjid?
Returning to Heartbeat, how was the process?
The biggest challenge was to tell the entire story in nineteen minutes flat. I am glad we could pull it off—Everyone in my family including those who are otherwise very critical of my work has also loved it. I must also congratulate ZEE5 for having pulled all stops to ensure mass awareness of the film, which is a tough challenge in today’ s lockdown environment.
Since you have successfully dabbled in all entertainment mediums, your take on the web?
Digital is the most potent and fastest-growing medium. Its biggest USP is reach. .Cinema always had an upper revenue limit depending on the number of screens it can garner. Universally watched web has no such limitations; you might not watch my show today, but can still check it out later. Today given the lockdown situation, web viewership has gone up 50% as most content is online. Even my father, who till now kept a distance from the web too, has jumped on the bandwagon. This above freedom empowers the web to offer differentiated content, unlike films and TV. I am medium neutral, only wanting to be part of projects which can be happily watched years down the road. Most, if not all, of my work fall in that category.
How will COVID-19 impact our entertainment sector?
It would be premature to hazard a guess on the final effects depending on the longevity of the pandemic. At the very least, substantial film budgets of individual top producers and A list actors will have to be rationalized. Also, viewing patterns across mediums will change. A new type of industry might emerge. I, too, had some upcoming projects, but right now, everything is up in the air. Post lockdown lifts everyone will do cost-effectiveness analysis, till then just sit at home.