- BOTTOM LINE: Where the Viewer Feels Prisoned for Two Hours
|Platform: Netflix||Genre: Comedy|
What Is the Story About?
After a personal setback and a non-happening work-life, Karan, in a bid to cut himself off the harsh ways of the society, locks himself in his house for several months. The only contact he maintains is with his best friend JD, a supposed casanova who’s always busy offering relationship advice over the phone. One given day, Karan’s snotty neighbour Pinky, a daughter of a big-time don, barges into his house to leave behind a box that allegedly has a man bubble-wrapped in it. While trying hard to help his friend come out of his ‘house arrest’ mode, JD requests his ex Saira, a journalist, to woo Karan for a date. Where is this relationship headed? What’s the fate of the bubble-wrapped man? That’s House Arrest in a nutshell.
Ali Fazal, time and again, has proved that good actors needn’t always choose good projects. His script selection, after a string of failures, continues to disappoint and what’s more appalling here is the lack of any effort from the actor to step into the shoes of the lead character. The actor is in poor form, mostly appearing confused and too stiff for a role like this to work. If you were of the belief think Jim Sarbh can never come up with a bad performance, you must watch House Arrest. He’s so casual in his appearance, performance and his dialogue delivery gives you a vibe as if he’s too tired to strain his vocal cords. Shriya Pilgaonkar and Barkha Singh don’t do much to rise above a paltry script.
Although House Arrest isn’t terrible, it’s easily the most boring Indian original that Netflix has ever produced/acquired to date. Despite having a unique premise of a guy locking himself in a room for nine months to savour life at his own pace, the film never quite takes off. It’s hard to believe that someone on the lines of director Shashanka Ghosh (who has made films like Khubsoorat, Veere Di Wedding) would be associated with a mediocre project that progresses at snail pace.
The plot is such a disappointment, so flat and unlayered that you don’t care for any of the characters that appear in front of the screens. It pains to see talents like Ali Fazal, Jim Sarbh being wasted on a bore-fest with such poorly etched characters. Exploring a unique theme like urban isolation in an Indian context while referencing the idea from a practice prevalent in Japan called Hikikomori, House Arrest could have been an interesting psychological exploration about distancing oneself from the society. Given the premise is set amid Delhi where people are more or less confined to their homes, the timing couldn’t have been more relevant. However, the watching experience, even at 100 minutes, makes you feel otherwise.
Apart from a few basic sequences, you don’t have a clear idea about how a person could manage his survival in a city without stepping outside his flat. The characterisation of Karan is extremely weak because the execution makes a nine-month stay at home feel like a piece of cake. It doesn’t talk of the pleasures and dangers of loneliness enough and neither tells us how it’s different from solitude. The backstories of the characters aren’t fleshed out properly. One interesting cinematic tool though is the imaginative visualisation of placing the caller and receiver of a mobile phone amid the same backdrop.
The entire angle of a don’s daughter bubble-wrapping a man in a box and leaving it at the protagonist’s place doesn’t feel believable at all. Of course, films are meant to make the improbable feel probable and this one’s a fair distance away from doing that. The love story between a journalist (who wants to feature a story of an isolated man) and the protagonist hardly works. Both the characters have a murky past with their partners but that’s brought into the story so late that you don’t care about it.
There’s neither much humour nor realism on offer. The ending precisely presents everything that the film doesn’t have – clarity. There are a plethora of pointless conversations that lead up to nothing. The protagonist of House Arrest is a frustrated soul and so could be a viewer, after getting through this ordeal. Lonely or not, House Arrest shouldn’t be on your watchlist.
Music and Other Departments?
The music of a film is indeed reflective of how the story inspires a composer to come up with a compelling output. Here, the result is pretty evident – the soundtrack is as jerky as the narrative. The cinematography, surprisingly, stays true to the premise and could have worked wonders had the plot been more well structured. The dialogues are shallow and emotionless, but for an effective outburst that the protagonist has at the end of the film.
Impressive visual detailing
A plot stretched beyond necessity
Did I Enjoy It?
Will You Recommend It?
House Arrest Review by Srivathsan Nadadhur
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