The new Amazon Prime anthology movie Unpaused is a nice mixture of treatments. None of them are sharing a theme. The backdrop of COVID 19 is the common link here, and we get to see a wacky concept, human relationship stories, and some political stories among these five films. Rather than being an escapist concept that relies heavily on being a feel-good theme, we are shown movies that address various realities and possibilities.
The first movie is from Raj & DK, and it is almost like a comedy concept Black Mirror episode. It is set in the future where a Hypo (extremely virus phobic cautious guy) dates a Warrior (people who make vaccines against COVID) on a VR dating platform. The second story by Nikkhil Advani is about a woman who is the director of a Magazine, stuck at her apartment during lockdown while her husband was facing allegations of sexual misconduct inside the company. The third one by Tannishtha Chatterjee is a movie that feels typical in certain areas but has that lingering sense of positivity. The problems in the lives of the main characters aren’t that usual. Avinash Arun’s story of a migrant worker somewhere would remind you of the Academy Award winner Parasite. Nitya Mehra’s story also has the politics of migrant workers. It’s a very human story that shows us the gradual evolution of a relationship between two strangers.
If you ask me whether I have any favorites here, the answer will be clear. The Raj and DK movie Glitch and Avinash Arun’s Vishaanu are my absolute favorites. Glitch, for its original nature as it efficiently explored a possible future. Initially, you are given the feeling that it’s a wacky comedy. The story gradually enters the personal spaces of characters in a reality that is not relatable to us. But the fundamental emotion of being discriminated against somewhere bonds the characters and gives us that emotional reason to feel for them. Saiyami Kher and Gulshan Devaiah are indeed in character and share wonderful on-screen energy. Through wide-angle lenses and contrast colors on the screen, one could sense the makers’ visual signature. And the future elements looked more practical rather than being wildly imaginative.
Avinash Arun’s Vishaanu is an alarming political reality we all witnessed during the lockdown. It’s about a family that got stuck in Mumbai without many supplies. They have sneaked into their employer’s posh flat, and they are living there. But the lack of supplies is not helping them, and the husband and wife are trying their best to find food and money. They are also looking for a way to go back to their village. Through a much-nuanced representation of the story, Avinash Arun gives us an experience that would make us contemplate the social inequality and the privilege we all forget to acknowledge. Abhishek Bannerjee and Geetika Vidya have done an exceptional job in portraying the underprivileged people’s desires and cluelessness.
The next one that I liked was Nitya Mehra’s Chand Mubarak, which, even though it has this familiar feel, puts a smile on your face because of its attitude. It’s a story about the relationship between an older woman and an auto-rickshaw guy. The basic story is about two loners who are helping each other during these testing times. Small things like the false initial judgment and the gradual understanding of the other person’s reality etc., are portrayed in a very emotional way. The chemistry between Ratna Pathak Shah and Eeb Alley Ooo star Shardul Bharadwaj is delightful. I would say the charm of this duo will make you ignore the movie’s predictable nature.
Rat-A-Tat by Tannishtha Chatterjee has Lillete Dubey, and Rinku Rajguru felt a bit inadequate. The film used the backdrop of its characters, the past that we won’t see in the film, to establish its philosophy. The story has these two women who are clear about having an identity. Such elements make it enjoyable. But somewhere, I felt the narrative struggled to give a rigid structure to the idea. The gradual increase in the bonding between the characters is pleasant to observe, but the impact element was missing.
The least favorite among the five films for me was Nikkhil Advani’s The Apartment. I am not saying it’s a bad one. But the movie felt flat in terms of the messaging. The politics of the film has contemporary relevance for sure. But the presentation lacked subtlety. And to be honest, it never really felt like a movie that needed a lockdown backdrop. I thought that they repositioned a story in an everyday world to a post corona scenario.
The five films in Unpaused have a sense of engagement, and that does make the movie watchable. As I said, my personal favorites were Glitch and Vishaanu. And those two movies had the signatures of crafty filmmakers and a solid foundation on a concept level.
My personal favorites were Glitch and Vishaanu. And those two movies had the signatures of crafty filmmakers and a solid foundation on a concept level.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended