Mumbai, 20th June 2020: As the film shoots are about to resume, Sweta Rai, an Indian filmmaker in Hollywood, has shot a feature-length documentary film “A Pandemic: Away from the Motherland” under lockdown, all from her apartment in Downtown, Los Angeles. Sweta says, “This starts a new era of filmmaking Or the “New Normal” as they say. This lockdown has been difficult for everyone as the world came to a halt. Being alone at home, I decided to make the best use of this time.” As COVID – 19 cases increase in India, and worldwide there are different problems the healthcare workers are facing. Among this, there is a section of Indian doctors who are working abroad, away from their motherland, India.
Sweta says, “As these front-line workers were dealing with the crisis, I wanted to bring the story of these 5 Indian doctors in the USA who are away from their families. This Pandemic has left everyone questioned, and these front-line workers are the real heroes. Their story needed to be told. When someone lives away from the family, their challenges are different; their emotions are different. But what I learned is that while their families back in India miss them every day, they feel proud of them for protecting the human race regardless of what country they are in.”
The story features Dr. Ankit Bharat, who has just performed USA’s first double lung transplant surgery on a COVID patient. He is known worldwide for this and his previous achievements with Robotic lung surgeries for which he was featured at Times Square, New York.
“I have been following Dr. Bharat’s journey since the Pandemic started in March this year. The double lung transplant surgery that he has performed on a COVID patient is a major breakthrough in medical sciences. Making us closer to getting to the core of this virus until the vaccine arrives. I also interviewed Dr. Bharat’s parents in Meerut, India, and followed their journey to learn about their experiences of having their son living so far away from them.”
Apart from Dr. Bharat, this story features 4 other Indian doctors and their families. Dr. Pooja Malhotra (Nephrologist), who contracted COVID -19, recovered, and got back to work. Dr. Uma Madhusudana (Internal Medicine), Dr. Shreedhar Kulkarni (Internal Medicine), and Dr. Shantanu Singh (Critical Care & Pulmonary Diseases) who are treating COVID patients.
“All these doctors are at the front line fighting this unseen enemy. We were not allowed to send the camera crew for some of the doctors to avoid COVID spread. My Cinematographer, David Bouza, who has shot 60 Hollywood documentaries so far, and I came up with the idea of guiding the doctors about a mobile app for shooting professional videos. Dr. Kulkarni and Dr. Singh became a pro at the app and self-taped their interviews while I directed them through Skype, Zoom, and Whatsapp video calls. While I shot in different USA cities, I also shot in the smallest towns of India- all remotely under lockdown”.
Producer, Director, and Writer of this film, Sweta Rai, was born and brought up in Madhya Pradesh, India. Sweta has received 3 master’s degrees from prestigious colleges like American Film Institute (AFI) in Los Angeles. The feature films that Sweta has produced are available on streaming platforms like Amazon Prime Video, iTunes, Hulu, Showtime, and other leading networks and streaming platforms.
“While watching the premiere of my first feature film, Surviving the Wild at AMC theatre in Los Angeles, I had the idea of bringing some Indo-Hollywood stories to the world screen too. That is when Indo Holly Films was born in my mind. I feel connected to the Pandemic documentary on so many levels, as being away from my family in India, I can relate to the sentiments of this story. We are expecting a release date in July for this documentary.”
Sweta is the Founder and CEO of Indo Holly Films, which, as the name suggests, will collaborate Bollywood/ Asian cinema with Hollywood. Sweta is a veteran in films and television development, acquisition, production, and distribution. She has produced movies with legendary Hollywood filmmakers like James Caan (Godfather), Jon Voight (Mission Impossible), Bo Derek (Tarzan, 10), to name a few. She is all set to shoot her next documentary, “Skin,” which is based on skin complexion biases women face in Asia