Having a roof over your head is considered one of the essentials for human security and survival. A home is up there in the value chain along with food and clothing.
Home Shanti, a compact comedy on Disney+ Hotstar, burrows into the importance of an owned residence through the experiences of the Joshi family. The tone of the six-episode series directed by Akanksha Dua is light, optimistic and heart-warming. The show pivots on the thought that whether a house or a relationship, both need to be built on a strong foundation.
A quintessential middle-class unit of mother, father and two children, the Joshis live in Dehradun. Sarla Joshi (Supriya Pathak Kapur) is the primary breadwinner. An English teacher and vice principal at the local government school, she is on the cusp of retirement. The end of her posting will mean relinquishing the officially assigned quarters.
Sarla’s husband, the jocular and kindly Umesh (Manoj Pahwa), is a cricket-obsessed poet living the dream life of little or no responsibility. He’s happy to be Sarla’s deputy. Jigyasa is the smart, older, taken-for-granted child while Naman is the slightly dim-witted and over-indulged youngest family member.
Refreshingly, the Joshis are not a dysfunctional family. The creators have made them wholly normal and relatable, with their bickering, quirks and affection.
The Joshis have 10 months to build their dream home. Each family member has his or her own wish, such as a gym for Naman and a separate bathroom for Jigyasa.
Every episode throws up a new challenge in the house construction, from finding the right architect to over-priced interior designers and corrupt bureaucrats. Somehow the Joshis find a way around each roadblock, largely through Sarla’s resourcefulness and the support of their neighbours and the cordial contractor Pappu Pathak (Happy Ranajit). The one irritant is Sarla’s pesky mother, micro-managing via video call.
Each family member also comes to terms with personal issues, such as poet Umesh’s stage fright, and income-related power dynamics.
Manoj Pahwa and Supriya Pathak Kapur are endearing and very natural as the couple that has been together over 30 years. Chakori Dwivedi neatly captures Jigyasa, a college student on the verge of adulthood. Poojan Chhabra is saddled with the weakest character and overplays Naman’s idiocy. How could the son of such a fastidious English teacher, who even corrects the SDM’s grammar, be so unschooled?