Mar 21: The novel coronavirus outbreak in the country may have brought the ever-bustling film industry to a halt but it hasn't stopped Bollywood celebrities from utilising their massive online influence to entertain their followers as well as engage them in fitness, dance and yoga routines.
According to the Health Ministry, the coronavirus cases in India rose to 258 on Saturday after 35 fresh cases were reported in various parts of the country.
As the government encourages more social distancing, people from the film fraternity are finding ways to connect to people and ensure their self-isolation isn't wasted.
On Sunday, actor Shilpa Shetty will hold a special live fitness session across digital platforms for people to follow from home.
"In times like these, it's important to stay fit, active, and healthy. Join me on Sunday, 22nd March at 4:00 pm IST as I go LIVE on Instagram-Facebook-Helo (@theshilpashetty) and on the @ShilpaShettyApp to show you some beneficial and helpful yoga asanas.
"You can watch, learn, and practice it from the comfort of your homes. Remember, staying indoors shouldn't be an excuse for deviating from your fitness routine," the actor wrote in an Instagram post.
Online yoga and fitness programs are picking up steam, with many celebrities pitching in.
On Saturday, actor Tamannah Bhatia went live with Diva Yoga, a studio part of a larger yoga ecosystem called SARVA, where she participated in a one-hour virtual yoga class, to encourage people to pursue their fitness goals.
Malaika Arora, co-founder of the yoga studio, told news agency that as the world fights a public health crisis, "we must do our best to stay calm and safe."
"There is also a need to boost our immunity levels even if it means continuing our workout from home. The live sessions being conducted on the Diva Studios Instagram handle and immunity boosting modules being shared on the SARVA app and website are aimed at this.
"Our instructors will offer guided lessons every day... for everyone’s benefit. I encourage people to join in and be responsible for your own health. When you are fit and healthy, you can help others in a better manner. It is these small steps that will lead to a better outcome," she said.
With everything coming to a standstill, choreographer Terence Lewis has also figured out an alternate avenue to reach out to his students: through online classes.
As of now, those who are not his students do not have the access to it, but Lewis said that's going to change soon.
"In few days, we will be starting online dance tutorials for people who have no access and means to be a part of our institute directly. Since, we do not have any branches, neither do I believe in having one, we directly teach from our original space in Andheri.
"Here we have instructors who have learnt from me and is the only legit institute we have hence, we'll think of doing the online classes as way of engaging with people who are far away from us," Lewis told PTI.
As shootings of movies, TV shows and web series stand suspended till March 31, casting director and actor Abhishek Banerjee is encouraging artistes to send self tapes from their homes.
"We are encouraging that to minimise human to human contact and audition spaces. Some actors are known to us, some unknown. It's very difficult to track anybody's health of you don't know the person. So it's easier to see the self tapes and keep shortlisting them and maybe we will call them again for a proper audition when everything is alright," he said.
The process of recording a self audition, according to the "Stree" actor, isn't easy.
"Full marks and respect for actors who are sending the self tapes because audition process takes a lot of efforts and to do that alone, without any help in isolation, without cues, it's commendable."
Banerjee, who runs Casting Bay, a leading casting studios, along with his friend Anmol Ahuja, said on an average, any big casting office had around 100-150 footfalls everyday, which has now come to a griding halt.
"The minute the government decided, we stopped all auditions too. Everything is on a standstill now. The production houses have asked us to hold on the auditions and projects. The major worry is that many actors will have date issues now. Once everything opens in April, let's see how to tackle that. It'll be a very difficult situation," he added.