Unpaused: Naya Safar Review: Stories of hope!
Cast: Shreya Dhanwanthary, Priyansh Painyuli, Geetanjali Kulkarni, Nagraj Manjule and others
It is hard to forget the crippling toll of the second wave when things came to a grinding halt. Unpaused: Naya Safar explores different complex emotions that people went through during the same. Here is a detailed review of each story in the series.
The first episode of Unpaused: Naya Safar paints a very realistic picture of work from home culture. Akriti and Dippy are an upper-middle-class working couple from Mumbai who are managing their home and jobs in the middle of the pandemic. We see them watering the plants, cleaning the dishes as they attend important work calls. But out of blue, Akriti is expelled from her work and this leaves her in a very vulnerable state. The Couple is successful in putting ahead the confusions and qualms that the unprecedented times have created. Priyansh Painyuli and Shreya Dhanwanthary have done excellent jobs in extracting the emotions of a couple dealing with the tensions created due to the pandemic.
With a luminous performance by Geetanjali Kulkarni, War Room is an episode that is filled with complex emotions. Sangeetha Waghmare (played by Geetanjali Kulkarni) is a school teacher who now works in one of the covid war rooms, helping people find ICUs, beds, and oxygen cylinders. An unexpected phone call asking for the availability of a bed gets her by surprise. Now she has to deal with two conflicting emotions; one is a personal vendetta and the other is the responsibility towards her job as a covid warrior. It is brilliant how Geetanjali’s eyes do most of the talking.
Frontlined by Saqeeb Salim, Ashish Verma, and Sam Mohan, Teen Tigada is the story of three strangers who loot a truck full of valuable load for their boss but are stuck in an abandoned construction site due to the pandemic. The three men, from different backgrounds, struggle to cope with the mess that the lockdown creates. For me, this episode, however, was the least impressive one.
Gond Ke Laddoo
Gond Ke Laddoo, like the dish, is a sweet episode that, however, has not much to do with the second wave. Mrs. Sushila Tripathy (played by Neena Kulkarni) is desperate to meet her grandchild but the lockdown restrictions won’t allow this to happen. She sends across some Gond Ke Laddoo for her daughter who lives somewhere in Delhi. The delivery of the laddoos comes to a standstill when the delivery boy Rohan meets with an accident. The events that follow make the film a sweet slice of life drama that keeps us entertained.
Nagraj Manjule’s ethos in filmmaking always finds a way to leave us stunned towards the end (as is evinced from his previous blockbuster Marathi film Sairat). Manjule, as always, digs deeper into the horrors of class divides but this time emphasis is given to how the second wave affected the people from the lower strata of society. He plays the lead of the film, Vikas, a crematorium worker. He does this job not because he finds it fascinating, but because it is the job that is expected from his caste. The second wave of the pandemic saw several people dying because of the virus. Vikas struggles to get his job done and also deals with the social stigmas associated with his profession while his father is getting treated in the hospital after contracting the virus. The camera pans into the mundane life of Vikas, near the pyres in the crematorium, which may get boring after a while. But I can assure you, it is all worth it.
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