When five substantial directors get together to create an anthology, a quality assurance comes with it. And Unpaused doesn’t let you down on the professional making of any of the five episodes, despite all of them being limited to shooting with a unit of only 10. The backdrop of the lockdown in all the stories also lends it an immediate connect with the recent, with masks and curfew rules all so familiar.
Glitch (directed by Raj & DK of The Family Man fame) which unspools first, has a paranoid hypo (Gulshan Devaiah) sprinting like Usain Bolt when his date in a restaurant with no other customers, another new normal, turns out to be a healthcare worker (Saiyami Kher). Such a believable tale of someone who slowly steps out of paranoia. Thumbs up for both actors too.
The Apartment (directed by Nikkhil Advani, the director of Kal Ho Naa Ho, D-Day, Batla House et al) manages to weave in a whole story of a marriage gone wrong, sexual misconduct, suicidal instincts and an awakening. All of this centred around Richa Chadha who pulls it off neatly even as she grapples with a pesky new neighbour during the lockdown. Interesting.
Rat-A-Tat (directed by actor-and-director Tanishtaa Chatterjee) and Chaand Mubarak (by Nitya Mehra known for Made In Heaven) need to be clubbed together for the rather expected similarity in their themes – crusty old single women striking up an unlikely friendship with someone after overcoming the initial stiffness. In Rat-A Tat, it’s serial complainant Lilette Dubey who slowly warms up to a young girl in her building. In Chaand Mubarak, Ratna Pathak Shah argues with a cop during curfew hour, is suspicious of the rickshawala and fierce about mask wearing. Rather unsurprising when she ends up saying, ‘Call me Uma Aapa’ to the rickshawala as masks come down and he breaks his roza with her. In both, the improbable friendship and climaxing as a good influence on one another are actually foreseeable.
If a lockdown series doesn’t feature impoverished migrants footing it back home, it would seem incomplete. Cinematographer-turned-director Avinash Arun’s Vishaanu provides it but he does it refreshingly well with Abhishek Banerjee playing the migrant who can’t head home to Rajasthan with wife and son. Rather novel what this migrant family does to survive in Mumbai until it has to hit the road.
Giving an over-all rating to direction, story, screenplay, dialogues or music would be unfair. But it is a satisfying anthology and production values are to be cheered for working on a budget and a shoe-string crew.