'Virus' is a thriller about those who dared death: Aashiq Abu

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Patients with fever were flowing to the Kozhikode medical college. The doctors and other medical staff were busy examining them and writing medicines. As it looked like another flu season, many of the staff didn’t even bother wearing a mask on their faces. The hospital that had seen millions of flu seasons saw it as just another one which gave them busy days. But they were alarmed when many of their patients died abruptly. Elaborate tests were run in the laboratories and the results had shocked the doctors and the virologists alike. The lab results confirmed Nipah, a deadly virus, which doesn’t even have a preventive medicine. The United Nations has included Nipah in the list of the most deadly diseases. The authorities had no clue about the source of Nipah or the extent of the viral infection.

Many, in the casualty ward of the medical college, were stunned to know this news. The doctors and the staff in the primary health centers who treated the patients initially became silent. They knew that the virus has already entered many of their bodies. Some decided to quit, but most of them were determined to stay back and fight Nipah together. From the people who washed clothes at the hospital and cleaners to compounders and even doctors who were about to retire, everyone stood together declaring that they would defeat death with love. They treated and tended to those who came bearing the deadly virus. They found courage and stood unfazed even when they saw 21 out of 22 patients who were diagnosed with Nipah succumb.

However, all these news had severely perturbed someone outside the hospital. It was writer Muhsin Parari. One of his relatives was working in the hospital. Meanwhile, Muhsin met director Aashiq Abu. It is from that meeting the story of ‘Virus’, the movie, unfolded. Muhsin, Sharfu and Suhas treaded the path of the virus to trace the source of the outbreak. The trio travelled through the Kozhikode town, to know more about the virus, when many residents were planning to vacate the city.

‘Virus’ is about their journey through the untold experiences of those came face to face with Nipah. Director Aashiq Abu talks about his upcoming movie ‘Virus’.

“This could be called a thriller movie. This is the story of a group of people’s fight, realizing that death is looming on the other side. We were stunned at every moment that we treaded through the path of the virus. Many asked us why such an ensemble cast of lead actors were brought in. As we proceeded with the story, we realized that every one of them is a hero. We witnessed many, from the ones who washed the patients’ clothes and those who helped bury the dead bodies to those who took care of the patients, whom we think as belonging to the lower strata of the society, climb the ladder of greatness with their love, compassion and goodness of heart. Many, who could have escaped to other hospitals or countries, had forgotten about the virus, to stay back and tend to the patients. So, we thought that good actors should essay these people on screen,” explains Aashiq.

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The director emphatically states that it is not a fictional story but based on real incidents and information passed on by those who were inside the hospital. The three writers who prepared the screenplay had stayed in the city to collect more information about the outbreak. “I too had stayed for many days there. We met many people and spoke to them. All of them have gone through unspeakable horrors. The families of the hospital staff stayed home with prayers. Despite suffering all these, many of them were isolated by the people in the locality. No one can be blamed as these are the realities of life. We met a doctor who reported for work after preparing his will. Which other profession gives them the courage to bid farewell from the families knowing that they may not return. Here, the will has become the death warrant itself,” notes Aashiq Abu.

The director says that the people had gone through extreme fear of the virus for four months. “This is our journey through their minds. It is a thriller which traces the source of the outbreak. They had faced this virus together as a group. Similarly, this movie too, is all about togetherness. When the floods came, we forgot the warriors of Nipah. This movie remembers the true warriors who courageously took on the virus,” concludes Ashiq Abu.

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