The batch of 2020 might be the only one in history that has the luxury of graduating in its pyjamas – thanks to the novel coronavirus pandemic that has resulted in a nationwide lockdown.
However, this generation is also inheriting a broken world: an economic catastrophe, an unprecedented health crisis, and a looming climate emergency. As journalist Faye D’souza says in the documentary Batch of 2020, “We screwed up.”
In the Under 25 Studios production, which will be streamed on YouTube from Sunday, people from various fields offer insights on surviving the “real world”. The documentary includes anecdotes, reflections on where the world is headed, and advice (including how to tell your parents you want to drop out). The speakers include actors Hrithik Roshan and Deepika Padukone, filmmaker Anand Gandhi, artist Raghava KK, musician Armaan Malik, comedians Naseer Al Azzeh and Vineeth Kumar and Kommune India co-founder Roshan Abbas.
Even before the coronavirus outbreak, millennials were deemed a generation falling short of hope and unsure of whether a college degree was worth it. The pandemic has pushed them over the edge.
Anto Philip, Under25 co-founder and writer of Batch of 2020, said the film seeks to address these concerns and provide some answers.
The idea was to “move past degrees and certificates”, Philip said. “The whole education system today is built on industrialisation and we are all meant to be cogs in a machine. We are told be an engineer wheel or a lawyer wheel, but what happens when the machine itself caves in?”
The guests in Batch of 2020 revisit their college years, reminiscing about time spent in the canteen and the forging of lifelong friendships. There is advice on how to stay open to learning, following your dreams and making the most of the college years. “I’ve always believed that the finest steel must go through the hottest fire,” Hrithik Roshan says in the film, “Accept the disorder, improve because of that chaos.
Filmmaker Anand Gandhi pushed the class of 2020 to learn from the achievements and failures of previous generations, build up empathy and rise above hate. “Question oppressive laws and practices everywhere, no matter who is enforcing them – your family or your state,” Gandhi says in the film. “Expand the horizon of yourself to include not only your kin and kindred minds, but also those who are not like you. Especially those who are not like you.”
The documentary also addresses the mental health crisis that has been aggravated by the pandemic. Batch of 2020 is a “complete bootcamp of mental health and anxiety”, Philip said, adding. “We have [All India Bakchod founder and comedian] Tanmay Bhatt, who went through a year of paralysis, talking about how he rebooted from the lowest low.”
While the film targets the graduating batch, it speaks to something larger. “We’re all going through this pandemic together and we need to get past it,” Philip pointed out. “Technically, we’re all the batch of 2020.”