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Wednesday, Dec 11, 2019

House Arrest review: Ali Fazal tries his best but shallow writing fails this Netflix film

House Arrest review: While Ali Fazal and co-actors performed their best, the makers failed to dig into the very topics their plot offered on a platter.

tv Updated: Nov 17, 2019 15:48 IST
Sweta Kaushal
Sweta Kaushal
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
House Arrest review: Ali Fazal and Shriya Pilgaonkar in the Netflix original.
House Arrest review: Ali Fazal and Shriya Pilgaonkar in the Netflix original.

House Arrest
Director: Shashanka Ghosh and Samit Basu
Cast: Ali Fazal, Jim Sarbh, Barkha Singh, Shriya Pilgaonkar

Ali Fazal headlines Netflix original, House Arrest, directed by Shashanka Ghosh and Samit Basu. The film aims to address a lot of urbane issues, touches upon a few but explores none to a powerful impact.

Karan (Ali) is a banker who has been staying inside his posh, luxurious flat for nine months and has literally not stepped outside his main door. However, he is not a loner, neither is he a psycho. He is very much the social animal that humans are – he talks to friends over phone, watches people on the street from his balcony and even spies on neighbours.

Ali and Shriya in a still from House Arrest.
Ali and Shriya in a still from House Arrest.

He manages his household chores with the help of a robot who cleans the place for him and maids and watchmen in the building who carry out chores like brining groceries and cash to his doorstep. Karan lives a perfectly normal, rather privileged life, in which he has gadgets to play with, a rich kitchen where he often whips up delicious meals garnished in a way suitable for seven-star restaurants.  Basically, he runs a pretty much sorted and peaceful life and even earns a living through Skype consultations.

Ali cleans his place in House Arrest.
Ali cleans his place in House Arrest.

Sounds like the perfect plot to explore topics like urban loneliness, futility of the rat race that modern life has become, mental well-being and the likes. Except, the makers failed to dig into the very topics their plot offered on a platter. What we get, instead, is a hurriedly edited montage of a man who wants to be alone but has friends who will call him from the weirdest of places to offer getting a girl to his place. Because going out just means trying to get some sex. JD (Jim Sarbh) is one such friend who calls Karan from the toilet seat, or the bed soon after having sex, or a massage table  -just to ask Karan if he can send a friend to his place.

The banter between the two friends, who go back to school days, could have been fun, had it not been for the forced imagery of receding networks through holograms and JD’s lack of passion in actually doing something for Karan.

Barkha as Pinky in House Arrest.
Barkha as Pinky in House Arrest.

Karan’s neighbour Pinky –wearing all Pink – brings a pink-coloured huge suitcase to his flat and coerces him to keep it for a day.The suitcase is supposed to add comedy to the plot -  it holds ‘a dead body’ that just won’t die. The man keeps popping out of the suitcase and novelty of the gig could only last once or twice it first happened. Why would a Dubai don handover a corpse or a kidnapped person to a layman? Why should the man in captivity be not even intoxicated properly? Why should such a suitcase not even have a lock?

Answers to such questions shall not be entertained in a film like House Arrest, because why go for rationale and common sense when you can simply throw in a girl, some romantic tension, and sex? Oh, and the romance and sex must come after some discussions over cheating, loyalty and commitment issues to keep it all guilt-free and ‘progressive’.

Also read: Amitabh Bachchan’s Jhund faces legal trouble: Filmmaker threatens cheating, copyright violation cases

Towards the end, the film takes a romantic turn, a hasty way to wrap the narrative on a positive note.

 Watch House Arrest trailer:

While the script focuses on Ali’s character, Shriya Pilgaonkar and Barkha Singh also get bits to chew on and they give it their best. Barkha slips into her character of a typical Delhi girl from a don’s family and Shriya suits her role of a journalist perfectly. Jim, on the other hand, is only wasted with the childish sequences on his platter.

Ali may have tried his best but his character graph is not exciting enough for the part that he plays. At one point he says, “I should have been weirder.” Maybe, Ali was speaking from his heart and knew what would become of this project.

Author tweets @swetakaushal

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