Innovating during the novel coronavirus pandemic and using lockdown limitations as both backdrop and situation has become popular for content creators. In Wakaalat From Home, writer Anuvab Pal and director Rohan Sippy have teamed up to imagine a divorce proceeding conducted via video conferencing. In March 2020, some court hearings were moved online due to Covid-19.
The 10-episode series, which is being streamed on Amazon Prime Video, is based on recordings of the case of Radhika Sen vs Sujin Kohli, a married couple whose case is tabled before the Family Court in Mumbai.
Radhika (Nidhi Singh), a naive news reporter and snivelling wife, is convinced that Sujin (Sumeet Vyas), a self-obsessed aspiring actor with a gambling problem, is cheating on her. Most of the episodes are split into four panels – two occupied by Radhika and Sujin and the others by their respective lawyers, played by Kubbra Sait and Gopal Datt.
The obvious jokes about dressing inappropriately during video calls, a sneeze setting everyone off in a panic about “The Virus”, technological glitches and a lockdown birthday are inescapable. As each 15-minute episode unfolds, we learn about the fissures in the marriage. Alongside, we get a little too much information about the unscrupulous lawyers.
Working with the restriction of the cast shooting themselves (the quartet is credited with make-up, hair, costume, art and camera), Rohan Sippy mixes things up with the actors occasionally changing rooms. But mostly, it’s a static frame intercut by Cherag Todiwala between speaker view and gallery view. Episode 10 has an appearance by judge Khurana (Akash Khurana).
Watching four faces in close-up episode after episode, discussing the same topics, gets predictable, even though the banter and chemistry between the foursome is fun. A little more movement and a few more props might have given the series more visual dynamism.
The Zoom call tangents, in which the personal sometimes seeps into the professional, are amusing, as are the observations by Radhika’s lawyer on Sujin. Commenting on Sujin’s eclectic repertoire, he says, “Yeh aadmi hai ya Kamal Haasan?” Sujin’s response is, “I am an actor, I have to lead many lives.” The meta-gibes give the show its strongest line of wit since the the gimmick of an online arbitration case gets old quickly.