Digital Review: ‘Unpaused: Naya Safar’ (Amazon Prime)

‘Unpaused’ was an optimistic reminiscence of the pandemic, when we hoped to emerge better, stronger, more connected. But ‘Unpaused: Naya Safar’ takes a different approach. We’ve all seen too much, become too jaded to believe that all we need is each other to get through the hardest years of our lives.

In the five episodes directed by Nupur Asthana, Ayappa KM, Ruchir Arun, Shikha Makan, and Nagraj Manjule, the antagonists have changed. We aren’t battling fear and loneliness anymore. Now, we are faced with the isolation of capitalism, class divide, and power dynamics. And battling these, according to the film makers, is futile. All we can do is ignore and live, despite the crushing weight of this calamity.

Nupur Asthana’s ‘The Couple’, starring Shreya Dhanwanthary as Akriti and Priyanshu Painyuli as Dippy, is the first episode in the series. Akriti unceremoniously loses her job right as she was about to launch a passion project, causing her to confront the value society sees in her as an employee, as a woman, and as a partner. Dhanwanthary and Painyuli share great chemistry, and when paired with great dialogue, there is no stopping them.

Episode 4 – ‘Gond Ke Laddu’ by Shikha Makan also tells a story about a young couple struggling against capitalism. Susheela (Neena Kulkarni) hires a courier service to send laddus to her daughter. The package gets into an accident. This could cost delivery worker Rohan (Lakshvir Singh Saran) his job, so him and his wife Geetha (Darshana Rajendran) commit to fixing this. ‘Gond Ke Laddu’ is the most light-hearted film in the bunch, especially due to Neena Kulkarni.

In Ruchir Arun’s ‘Teen Tigada’ (Episode 3), Chandan (Saqib Saleem), Dimple (Ashish Verma) and Ajeet (Sam Mohan) get stranded at the abandoned factory they were assigned to deliver a truck full of stolen loot. The trio of thieves eventually manage to rise above this nightmare lockdown scenario, but not without trampling each others’ nerves. ‘Teen Tigada’ feels little longer than it needed to be, but has some truly enjoyable moments.