REVIEW: Taking off from the first Unpaused (2020), Unpaused: Naya Safar, too, revolves around protagonists faced with challenges and uncertainties brought about by the novel coronavirus outbreak. Unlike the previous outing, the stories of which were limited to Mumbai, this time around, we see the stories moving to other places like Uttar Pradesh and New Delhi as well.
Nupur Asthana’s ‘The Couple’ centers around Akriti (Shreya Dhanwanthary) and Dippy (Priyanshu Painyuli), a couple who are working from home in the aftermath of the Covid-19 outbreak. Things take a turn when Akriti is laid off due to cost-cutting measures at her workplace. How it takes a toll on their relationship and how they handle it has been beautifully tackled by Nupur, who has also written the screenplay and dialogues with Samina Motlekar for this bitter-sweet love story.
Ayyapa KM’s story revolves around Sangeeta Waghmare (Geetanjali Kulkarni), a widow living alone who is a teacher and is working in a Covid war room. A call from a patient’s relatives brings back bitter memories, of losing her son and seeing the one responsible for his death being released from prison, even if temporarily. Like the previous story, this one is also relatable and perhaps, in a situation faced by Sangeeta, we may tend to react in a similar manner too.
Ruchir Arun’s ‘Teen Tigaadaa’ is about a trio who have stolen a consignment of consumer goods for one NalliSwamy and are compelled to bide their time in a rundown factory till lockdown restrictions in the wake of the second wave of Covid are eased and their loot can be sold off. Chandan (Saqib Saleem) needs to close the deal so he can go to his wife Supriya who is expecting their child, while Ajeet (Sam Mohan) wants to repay his father’s debt. And all Dimple (Ashish Verma) wants while they are cooped up there are some samosas, if not decent meal instead of the noodles and biscuits stored at the place. How they stick together despite their many differences and squabbles forms the crux of this story.
Writer-director Shikha Makan’s ‘Gond Ke Laddoo’ features Neena Kulkarni as Sushila Tripathi who wants to see her newborn granddaughter in New Delhi. But due to the Covid surge, her daughter Ritu insists she stay put in her home in Uttar Pradesh until it’s safe for her to venture out. This story reminds us of some of our old family members who are averse to using smart phones or doing transactions on mobiles. Shikha has crafted a sweet story about a mother’s secret recipe saving the day for a stranger courier guy Rohan (Lakshvir Saran) who goes out of his way to deliver her parcel for her daughter, with considerable help from his wife Geetanjali (Darshana Rajendra). This story also teaches a lesson about not giving up even when all is lost.
The series’ last episode is Nagraj Manjule’s ‘Vaikunth’, and as the title suggests, most of the narrative takes place in a crematorium. Vikas Chavan (Nagraj) works at the crematorium and wants his son to study hard to achieve some stature in life. His fear that someday an ambulance might drive it from the Janhit Hospital, where his father is admitted for Covid, instantly strikes a chord, reminding us of our worries and worse fears about our near and dear ones. The scenes where people don’t attend or don’t want to perform the last rites of their kin lost to coronavirus reflects the times we’ve been through.
One aspect common among all five stories is that they’re relatable and we can be certain to have thought something like one or the other protagonists in similar situations. Credit also goes to the actors for effectively bringing out the emotions that resonate with the viewers. Not only is their respective treatment real, but so is the setting that the five directors have chosen for their stories, which also strikes a chord.
To sum up, ‘Unpaused: Naya Safar’ is an apt follow-up to the 2020 anthology. And even if some a story or two seem grim, serious and morbid, as many are sure to bring a smile to our faces at the end of it.