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1232 Kms by Vinod Kapri: book review

On the 28th of March, the country faced an unprecedented curfew to prevent the spread of an unknown alien virus. While we took that “break” to spend time with our families, baking cakes and bread and making dalgona coffee, while media was busy with covid jihad and Rhea Chakraborty doing black magic, millions of people were on the street, reverse migrating to the same place which they once left in search of better lives in the city. Hundreds perished on the streets, due to hunger, exhaustion, accidents. Lost forever.

This is the story of seven such souls who knew if death is the reality, why not give it a last try, give their best, and die with happiness. While there may be seven of them, it’s a case story, the journey of lakhs of others wasn’t anything different, if not more difficult. Armchair critics might say they should trust government or relief societies, but do we really understand what it feels like to be hungry? Like being hungry for days? One who eats 3 times a day won’t really understand the desperation to survive, how it feels to be one evicted from a safe place. I have heard countless stories of exodus, of people leaving their motherland and coming to a foreign nation, or even migrating in their own country, like Kashmiri Pandits during early 90s insurgencies. This life-destroying experience of one group is always romanticized and studied in upcoming years but nobody really understands what it actually feels like.

On one side the jobs are gone, landlords kicking them away, police beating the pulp out of them, hunger and heat stroke killing them yet they keep on walking to their homes. Did you ever walk in the scorching heat of may btw? Some parts of India see a daily average temperature of 45degree centigrade. Now imagine walking for 10hrs, sometimes without shoes.

This book is a slap. A hard tight slap on our face. That while we were “Netflixing and chilling” millions were crying outside our homes, for help, for food, for shelter.


The nationwide lockdown in 2020 to curb the spread of Covid-19 left millions of migrant laborers without jobs, food, and shelter. Desperate and helpless, most took to the road, embarking on the long, often fatal, journey home. Ritesh, Ashish, Ram Babu, Sonu, Krishna, Sandeep, and Mukesh-migrants from Bihar-undertook a similar journey on their bicycles that lasted for seven days and seven nights. Their harrowing trip from Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, to their hometown of Saharsa as they braved police lathis and insults, and battled hunger, exhaustion, and fear, was documented by National Award-winning filmmaker Vinod Kapri. 1232 km is a story of the extraordinary courage of seven men in the face of tremendous odds.

1232 km by Vinod Kapri is published by HarperCollins India and to order your copy buy here.


Vinod Kapri, (born 15 August 1972) is a senior Indian journalist and filmmaker. He won a National Award for the documentary film Can't Take This Shit Anymore 2014. He made his feature debut with Miss Tanakpur Haazir Ho (2015) - a socio-legal satire that received extensive critical acclaim. His second feature film Pihu has been widely appreciated in International film festivals such as Vancouver International Film Festival, Palm Springs International Film Festival (California), Fajr International Film Festival (Tehran), and Indian Film festival (Stuttgart). His film Pihu was the Opening Film Of the 48th International Film Festival of India (IFFI),2017. It soon became the talk of the town that how a 100-minute film cast only one character that too a two-year-old girl. Before venturing into filmmaking, he spent 23 years of his career as a journalist with media organizations like Zee News, Star News, and India TV, where he produced and directed various documentaries and shows including those on the 13 December Parliament attack, 26/11 Mumbai attack, and anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare.

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