New Delhi, 13 Jun 2020 18:30 IST
The anthology, shot mostly on phones and laptops, captures four different stories of people trying to cope with life in the lockdown.
The extraordinary circumstances that have unfolded across the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic have forced creative people to think differently about the craft of cinema and goaded them to make films despite the restrictions in place.
The anthology film, Home Stories, presents the collaborative work of four filmmakers whose short films are centered around the pandemic and were made during the lockdown. Mostly shot on laptops and phones, the film premiered on the YouTube channel of Netflix India.
The first of the films, Out With It, tells of a man with an anxiety disorder, one that paralyses him in fear when he thinks of stepping out of the house. His friends tell him to “grow a pair” and he listens to motivational videos that inspire him to get out, telling himself, “I will go out today.”
Starring Arjun Mathur, the film is directed by Sahirr Sethhi and authentically captures the ways in which many of us are keeping ourselves engaged at home, while looking at the protagonist’s particular situation.
With a well-defined script and a skilled performance by Mathur, the irony of the character's predicament is effectively captured. The film also makes one think of the ways in which all of us will perhaps emerge notably altered through this period of the lockdown. Will we welcome human proximity, having been denied it for so long, or will we remain fearful of it, even after the pandemic has run its course?
The next film, Will You Be My Quarantine directed by Anubhuti Kashyap and starring Saba Azad and Imaad Shah, is a humorous take on the situation of a couple, whose one-night stand gets transformed into a much longer commitment as the lockdown is announced. As they are getting to know each other, differences arise when they navigate very practical problems. And the inevitable question comes up, “Where is this going”?
At a time of severe anxiety and unrelenting stress, the couple must realise that a little bit of consideration goes a long way. Although the film is predicatable and would have tried one's patience in a longer format, it works as a short. It's also hilarious to watch Rehaan (Shah) wearing his date's clothes!
Directed by Tanvi Gandhi and starring Tanmay Dhanania, Delivering Smiles is a touching look into the experience of a delivery executive, making vlogs to cope with the current situation and sprinkle a bit of joy into the lives of those whom he meets. Through his journey, the film explores the varied responses of people to the lockdown and their attitude towards those who are ensuring that services do not get disrupted.
Dhanania as the affable, cheerful executive prods us to spare a thought for those risking their lives to ensure our comfort, making this the most heartwarming film out of the selection.
The last film in the anthology, Web Ne Bana Di Jodi starring Veer Rajwant Singh, Apoorva Arora, and Rakesh Bedi in the lead roles is directed by Ashwin Lakshmi Narayan and looks at the ways in which a young couple is trying to tie the knot on the predetermined date, even as the lockdown makes it impossible for the ceremony to be conducted in the way that had been originally planned.
It offers a humourous take on the adjustments that people must make, especially the older ones, as they reluctantly adopt a digital medium, to execute a very traditional ceremony.
The four films present a balance between the serious and the funny moments during the lockdown, offering a vignette into people adjusting in their own ways to this very unique situation. In its own way, each film captures the lockdown and the pandemic in creative ways, offering stories that are interesting in themselves. And that is perhaps the most important thing - a good story will always be appealing, no matter the constraints under which it was shot.
There is a short video at the end showing how the film was made, capturing the excitement as well as the acute frustration of shooting a film with such severe constraints. We hope to see many more such experiments.
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