House Arrest movie cast: Ali Fazal, Shriya Pilgaonkar and Jim Sarbh
House Arrest movie director: Samit Basu and Shashanka Ghosh
House Arrest movie rating: Two and a half stars
Can you ever imagine not stepping out of your house for a discernible period of time, come what may? Even when your car is being stolen? And no this is not part of a higher scientific/lifestyle experiment, nor are you doing this consciously. One day led to another, and then the house door became a lakshman rekha. In this week’s Netflix release, House Arrest, we meet Karan, played by Ali Fazal, who has not stepped out of his home for — wait for it — nine months. He works out of his home through Skype consulting, waters his plants and yes, whips up lavash wraps in a jiffy. All coercion, methods and tricks, including those by his best friend JD (Jim Sarbh), to get him out of the house have failed. He uses the system around him, the help, the maid, the watchmen to facilitate his hermit-like existence. There is also an annoying pink-wearing-pink-talking neighbour Pinky, who walks all over Karan. There is a pink faux-fur covered suitcase in the mix, along with supremely clear and detailed holograms as well. Things pick up when Saira (Shriya Pilgaonkar), a journalist who is intrigued by his life choices lands on his door and wants to write a story on him. Saira thinks Karan is a practitioner of Hikikimori, a Japanese lifestyle trend where young adults, decry society and go into a self-imposed exile. But Karan affirms that his exile is not deliberate and he is living well without the need to interact with the outside world.
Spread over a span of 24 hours, the film touches upon themes like mental well-being, the cost of the rat race, and why do we at times need to just step back and yes, smell the coffee. The film, written by novelist Samit Basu, is high on the details, and we see the quirks of the characters come out in subtle ways. He is obsessed with order and precision, and has a thing for old motion sensor video games.
Karan’s house deserves a special mention. A typical train house of Delhi has been converted to a wonderful living space, replete with quirky artwork and pleasing aesthetics and design. But which guy keeps his house this clean, we wonder, and so does a visibly baffled Saira.
Set in Delhi, the film sounds like Delhi, but the dialogues and the banter could have been more engaging. Ali Fazal passes off as an urban, suave former banker, but there are times when we see him slip into a Mirzapur twang. The performances don’t uplift the screenplay and a few things jar. Saira plays a journalist who is there to interview him but not at one point does she take notes or switches on her recorder.
The film is a one-time watch, on a lazy evening at home. And yes, don’t accept any strange packages from your over-friendly neighbhour who has a towering bodyguard on call.