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Lights, sound... lockdown: How Mumbai, the city that never sleeps, went into slumber

Now...
By Gajanan Khergamker*
As it peeped from between two parked cars, a couple of policemen, masked and armed, holding fort at South Mumbai’s Babulnath Zone turned abruptly in response. Anticipating a motorcyclist breaking the lockdown and zipping through the parked vehicles, a police constable bolted towards the spot, a hand holding onto his mask and another with a raised baton only to find a peacock emerging and fanning out its full plumage.
Astounded by the appearance of the bird in an otherwise-crowded residential zone, the constable stood transfixed as it strutted about, oblivious of the penal threat, attempting to catch the attention of a peahen that stood tall atop the bonnet of a parked Esteem. As the peahen bolted across the road to enter a temple premises, the peacock followed in hot pursuit even as the constable grappled with his mobile to grab a photo for the record.
After all, it is not common to find peacocks in pursuit of peahens on a South Mumbai road. This, among a string of other instances of nature healing itself as humans of the world’s largest democracy, remained, locked down in the times of coronavirus.
A little distance away, at Girgaum Chowpatty, a swarm of pigeons inundated the zone covering long stretches of sand. “They’ve taken over the place a demolished kabootar khana (feeding place for pigeons) stood, broken down by the authorities for want of legality.
You can break down a structure but how can you take action against thousands of pigeons who have decided to break the law,” says Pardhi Savitri, a roadside gajra seller, now rendered workless owing to the lockdown yet hooded to protect herself from COVID-19.
The documentary captures how for the first time, in the history of the Maximum City, her lifeline -- the trains -- came to a halt, roads lay barren and the city... shut!
As daughter Laxmi, a dishevelled Pardhi girl all of six, stood with grains in her small palm and a pigeon pecked away without fear, the distinction between the tribal and the nature stood blurred. Attempts by the civic authorities to rid Mumbai of the birds and urban tribals like the Pardhis have been legendary. They fail miserably as the two continue to exist in sweet free harmony even as the rest of the city stands locked down. 
... and then
Coronavirus has taken an unprecedented toll on the world, in general, and India, in particular. That said, the lockdown placed on citizens across India from March 25 led to an enforced social distancing and kept masses indoors. However, the effect the lockdown has had on the environment, animals and birds has been nothing short of positive.
And, the positives of the lockdown do soften the harsh punishment of staying in during the period. India, once through with the COVID threat, must learn to retain the positives.
On March 25, 2020, Mumbai, the city that never sleeps, went into a slumber during the world's largest lockdown launched by India to control the spread of COVID-19. For the first time, in the history of the Maximum City, her lifeline -- the trains -- came to a halt, roads lay barren and the city... shut!
The “Lights, Sound ... Lockdown”, a DraftCraft Films Production, that showcases Mumbai as never seen before, was released in public domain exactly a month later on April 24, 2020. The documentary is created in conjunction with news portal The Draft as part of the Ground Zero Project that documents reality in India and Beyond Borders.
NOTE: The material for this documentary was generated during the first month of India's lockdown from March 25, 2020 to April 24, 2020 by Team DraftCraft from across Mumbai while, at all times, observing the mandatory social distancing norms as laid down by law.
All material provided in the documentary is copyrighted. It may, however, be shared and distributed freely but only 'as is' and 'with attribution' to DraftCraft Films Productions.
Here goes a link to the documentary: Lights, Sound … Lockdown...
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*Founder of think tank DraftCraft International, founding editor of news portal The Draft, founding solicitor of The Chamber Practice and producer/director at DraftCraft Films

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