Hotstar’s 1232 KMS Review: India’s Migrant Worker Plight in 2020 Out Loud

1232 KMS premiered on 24th March 2020 on Disney+ Hotstar. Written and directed by Vinod Kapri, the documentary takes into account the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on migrant labourers, taking viewers on a journey with them.

You Have Seen Them, Now Walk With Them

Back in March 2020, India went into a nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The virus not only brought with itself death and isolation, but also the downfall of the economy and survival crises. With no idea whatsoever about how to deal with this pandemic and no vaccine in hand, many countries found it fitting to announce a lockdown to prevent the spread and break the containment chain. There was no chance of herd immunity initially since it was new to the human system and would often shut down basic systems of the body.

But all this falls flat when there is no food on the plate, no money to live by, and no support from the government. In Vinod Kapri’s 1232 KMS, we follow 7 migrant labourers who embark on a journey from Ghaziabad to Bihar as the so-called big cities left them no choice but to migrate back to their hometown. With empty food vessels and little to no money, all these workers make their way back through internal routes away from the eyes of the police who pay zero heed to their despair and beats them blue and black.

I am a ‘savarna’, I was born in privilege and more often than not, I feed off my privileges’ and I acknowledge it. While the lockdown had no big impact on me as I had a home, food, money, family, and technology to keep me sound and occupied in tough times as compared to the 7 migrant labourers we follow in 1232 KMS. If, at any point, I give out an opinion that is ignorant to the plight of these workers which I see from outside with the eyes of privilege, feel free to point it out.

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Hotstar's 1232 KMS Review: India's Migrant Worker Plight in 2020 Out Loud 4

I fear the virus therefore the last year I stayed home for a major part. I got essentials delivered and left the house rarely. But some people had no choice but to get beaten down by the system and that includes migrant workers. The government decided to shut the entire country down without taking into account the nitty-gritty of the entire plan. And the migration of workers has to be the largest exodus in India post-independence but people failed to see it.

On one hand, our country was experiencing an exodus and on the other hand, people were cribbing about not being able to party and eat, and above all, I saw people blaming workers and its inhumane and cretinous. How can people blame people for looking out for themselves, how can you expect people to live without food and in fear? One of the labourers in the documentary says “this is a disease brought by the rich and the poor are bearing the brunt of it.” And in no way is that wrong.

The entire migrant exodus took place back in 2020 from March to June and here we are again 1 year later standing on the same grounds with the possibility of another lockdown hovering over our heads. And we can blame our irresponsive and partially blind government all we want for this but are they the only ones to be blamed? I saw people roaming without masks, planning extensive gatherings, and taking every possible risk, and neglecting the fact how their inconsiderate act impacts hundreds of other workers who are now coming back to rebuild their lives.

What makes the entire situation even sadder is that no political party took this huge issue into account in their election campaigns. They would if they were not at fault and when they want to spread propaganda but other than that this issue stands of no importance to our blind government. A statue and a temple are more important to this country than the basic ‘roti, kapda, makaan’ and it is not even surprising. What are these migrant workers to do with your big temples and statues of god and unity when they have no food and security? What significance do these things hold? Who are we lying to?

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Hotstar's 1232 KMS Review: India's Migrant Worker Plight in 2020 Out Loud 5

There is nothing about 1232 KMS that I found misleading or ignorant. 1232 KMS brings the truth to light without making an entire sympathetic situation about it but jerks people to see the situation for what it was and how it brings the poor pain and grief. This documentary brings to light our “internal matter” and everyone needs to see this. If you’re reading this and you’ve made it so far, ask your family, friends, and colleague to watch this and get themselves acquainted with the truth.

1232 KMS also tells you how the system treats workers, you can hear a police officer say “If you’ve not eaten properly for 8 days now then why do you want to eat now too?” Seriously, what? Kapri travels with these workers all the way documenting each and every nook and corner of their journey telling you the depth and the state of affairs for what it is without whitewashing.

Stream It or Skip It

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Hotstar's 1232 KMS Review: India's Migrant Worker Plight in 2020 Out Loud 6

STREAM IT! 1232 KMS is one of the best documentaries you can see at the moment. There is a sense of honesty and rawness to the entire documentary and it well drafted with nothing but the truth.

1232 KMS is now streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.

Read our other reviews here.




1232 KMS lays the truth about India's largest migrant workers exodus out bare and gives you a glimpse of reality and the effect of everything on the underprivileged.

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