UNPAUSED: NAYA SAFAR
Directors: Nupur Asthana, Ayyappa K.M, Ruchir Arun, Shika Makan and Nagraj Popatrao Manju
Cast: Shreya Dhanwanthary, Saqib Salim, Darshana Rajendran,Nagraj Manjule,Priyanshu Painyuli, Heetanjalo Kulkarni and Ashish Verma
Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video
By Jyothi Venkatesh
This anthology of five stories tells tales of love, forgiveness, friendship, trust, ambition, resilience and second chances in the unprecedented times brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns. 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 Mumbai-centric, this time around, we see the stories moving to other regional zones like Uttar Pradesh and New Delhi as well.
The first of the lot- Nupur Asthana’s ‘The Couple’ revolves around Akriti (Shreya Dhanwanthary) and Dippy (Priyanshu Painyuli), a young couple working from home in the aftermath of the Covid-19 outbreak, and instantly appeals to you. 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 brilliantly tackled by Nupur.
The second story directed by Ayyapa KM revolves around the serious story of a middle aged math teacher widow Sangeeta Waghmare (Geetanjali Kulkarni), who is working in a Covid war room. A call from a patient’s relatives brings back bitter memories, of losing her only son and seeing the one responsible for his death being released from prison.
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Ruchir Arun’s ‘Teen Tigaadaa’ deals with a trio who steal a consignment of consumer goods for one Nalli Swamy 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, incidentally not shown in the anthology) who is expecting their first child, while Ajeet (Sam Mohan) wants to repay his father’s debt. The third in the tigaadaa- Dimple (Ashish Verma) craves for some samosas, if not a 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.
The next one in the lot is the one I liked the best. Writer-director Shikha Makan’s ‘Gond Ke Laddoo’ starring the ever dependable Neena Kulkarni as Sushila Tripathi who wants to see her new-born granddaughter in New Delhi. 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. Shikha has crafted a cute story about a mother’s 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 teaches a lesson about not giving up even when all is lost.
The last episode is Nagraj Popatrao Manjule’s ‘Vaikunth’, where 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 hospital, where his father is admitted for Covid, instantly strikes a chord, reminding us of our worries about our near and dear ones due to coronavirus instantly and reflects the harrowing times that we have gone through.