Unpaused premiered on 18th December 2020 on Amazon Prime Video. The anthology series is directed by 6 directors Raj & DK, Nikkhil Advani, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Avinash Arun, and Nitya Mehra. The star cast includes Gulshan Devaiah, Saiyami Kher, Komal Chhabria, Richa Chadha, Ishwak Singh, Sumeet Vyas, Lillete Dubey, Rinku Rajguru, Abhishek Banerjee, Geetika Vidya Ohlyan, Palash Prajapati, Ratna Pathak Shah, and Shardul Bhardwaj alongside other cast members.
Back in October 2020, Amazon Prime Video brought to its viewers a Tamil anthology named Putham Pudhu Kaalai directed by 5 directors Sudha K Prasad, Suhasini Maniratnam, Gautham Menon, Rajiv Menon, Karthik Subbaraj. Now as the year is ending and we have spent close to 8 months of our lives in a countrywide lockdown due to the pandemic, the streaming platform brings to us another anthology series in Hindi language Unpaused with 5 stories of hope and companionship in these stressful times.
“Love, new beginnings, second chances, and a glimmer of hope.” – Unpaused
1. Glitch by Raj & DK
The opening film of the anthology Unpaused is titled Glitch where we see a world where Covid-19 has reached Covid-30 with no vaccines and the front line warriors getting little respect. Ahan (Gulshan Devaiah), a hypochondriac not only does WFH (Work From Home) but EFH (everything from home), including dating. On his virtual date, he meets Ayesha (Saiyami Kher), a warrior, and things take a turn. As the story progress, we see them fall and stand while battling their anxieties and fear.
Glitch provides the idea of a possible society where virtual assistants become the closest friends to humans. As we see Maya (Virtual Assistant) here and it is amazing how the directors have imagined the human-assistant relationship. We are nowhere close to a vaccine in the current scenario though human-trials are going on and Glitch offers the possible future of dating as technology advances and we stay home longer trying our best to make our lives happy and liveable in a virus-driven world.
Directors Raj and DK alongside talented actors like Devaiah and Kher have made the best film of the anthology which is not just pleasing to the eyes and mind but is also possibly real and not dystopian! The film alone carries the strength to become a full-length film and yet the small part we see is fulfilling and intriguing.
2. The Apartment by Nikkhil Advani
Nikkhil Advani brings to us the second movie of the anthology titled The Apartment where we see Devika (Richa Chadha) contemplating suicide as a relationship with Sahil (Sumeet Vyas) is disturbed by a traumatic truth about him which takes a toll on both her personal and professional life. While she contemplated the idea and is on the edge of hanging herself, a neighbor (Ishwak Singh) swoops in and saves her twice in his own way.
The Apartment talks about the psychological toll self-isolation can have on a person and how their situation in such a condition can push them towards an irreversible step like suicide. With this, the film also centres around the themes of guilt and resilience which comes with the companionship of a sexual predator and one might feel responsible for it. Both Richa Chadha and Ishwank Singh deliver applaudable performances here, telling the viewers that there is always hope at the end of the tunnel and while it might be dark, gloomy, and painful there is always light.
3. Rat–A–Tat by Tannishtha Chatterjee
With both Glitch and The Apartment are comparatively set in posh localities and houses, director Tannishtha Chatterjee brings to us a story that is set in a humble locality and household. We see Archana (Lillete Dubey), a senior citizen who registered 5 complaints about noises in her locality. She does not count herself as a senior citizen and prefers not being called aunty. As the story progresses we see her striking an unlikely bond with a younger tenant named Priyanka (Rinku Rajguru) who is away from her home in the big city, working.
We see the infamous thali banging here too! The theme here is a new beginning and relationships one might build in days of loneliness and lack of companionship which are not driven by need or greed but purely by heart and care. Following the “2-feet distance rule” the series shrinks this distance as people grow together as individuals, especially in between two generations like Priyanka and Archana where one is a new experience and the other is reminiscing old days!
Both Dubey and Rajguru here deliver praise-worthy and relatable performances. Written by Devika Bhagat and Ishita Moitra, the film is wholesome.
4. Vishaanu by Avinash Arun
Vishaanu by Avinash Arun featuring Abhishek Banerjee and Geetika Vidya Ohlyan is as real as it gets. The story revolves around a young migrant family who, after being thrown out of their rented house during the lockdown due to financial problems, decides to illegally sneak and spend a few days in a lavish flat as they try to arrange something to get them back home to Rajasthan. The film shows the difference between the lives of both the sects of the society with ease, all the while pointing a finger at the effects of the pandemic.
The film depicts the grim reality and talks about people who were directly affected by the lockdown and economy crash and lost a lot more! Though it feels fragmented at times in terms of the act but isn’t that the reality of our times? The star cast here fits the entire theme as their eyes are convincing of the character’s despair.
5. Chaand Mubarak by Nitya Mehra
Lastly, Nitya Mehra ends Unpaused with a heart touching story about Uma (Ratna Pathak Shah) and Rafiq (Shardul Bhardwaj) who find friendship, care, and trust in an unconventional place. Uma is an elderly woman and Rafiq is an auto driver, as Uma leaves to buy medicines in curfew timings she is forced to travel with Rafiq to get her necessary medicines. A relationship which starts with “oh! this auto driver is taking me the wrong way” to “thank you for your help”, their humanitarian concern for each other grows as they find a smile in the times of despair.
Notably, the character of Uma talks about the idea of not marrying and independence proving that not marrying does not leave you all shattered or alone. It might feel difficult at times but if that is what you choose for yourself it’s worth it. And on the contrary, Rafiq talks about the importance of family and love. Both Shah and Bhardwaj support their roles here with finesse and beauty and you almost feel the warmth the makers and actors try to bring forth. It says that humans are together no matter what their life choices might have been or what their religious beliefs are and it’s beautiful.
Stream It or Skip It
STREAM IT! Unpaused is a well-drafted and executed series that is not just bringing topics and themes out of thin air but features ideas that are honest and relatable. In 3 stories we see women taking the lead, talking about their pain, weakness, and strength. The film finds positivity and rainbows in these tough times and is overall a worth-watching experience.
Unpaused is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
Read our other reviews here.