Wakaalat From Home Amazon Prime Series Review: Longer, repetitive and more boring than the actual lockdown
Rhea Srivastava -What is the story about?
In 2008, former Friends star Lisa Kudrow was looking to find new projects and collaborated with her long-time friend Dan Bucatinsky to create a show called ‘Web Therapy.’ Since then, the two have produced several projects under their banner, but Web Therapy was innovative in the way it was a short-form content show shot entirely at the actors’ homes before the lockdown was in vogue. Web Therapy followed Fiona Wallace, a self-proclaimed therapist who would have 3-minute sessions on chat with problematic patients. All of them, Fiona included, were irreverent, insufferable, and completely hilarious. And while it still worked on a sitcom format, some ‘patients’ did make encore appearances too. Each episode had a runtime of 30 minutes and yet it never felt that long.
I’m all for a fresh perspective on an old formula, and the lockdown has given plenty of content producers the opportunity to experiment with this ‘from home’ format. Sippy Entertainment’s Wakaalat From Home, which airs today on Amazon Prime, is based on this premise too. But instead of using a sole character as the focal point for the laughs and quirks of the show, it uses an ensemble cast that sticks around for a whole season. Couple Sujin (Sumeet Vyas) and Radhika (Ridhi Singh) are seeking a divorce from the confinement of their separate homes, and joining them on a series of conference calls are their lawyers, Rajni (Kubbra Sait) and Mr Tripathi (Gopal Dutt), respectively. Add to that the awkwardness of family members hanging around as you go about your serious business, and connectivity issues, and you have yourself a comedy.
Each episode of Wakaalat From Home is timed at a mere fifteen minutes, so giving it the benefit of doubt for about an episode or two hoping that this would be a breezy watch is a given. The show, to its credit, doesn’t waste any time introducing characters and as soon as Advocate Rajni starts the meeting, the rest of the cast starts throwing mud at each other. But this is literally the first three minutes of episode 1 and post this point, there is not much to hold on to in terms of the story.
Sujin, Radhika, Rajni and Advocate Tripathi have been written as very distinct personalities - a self-obsessed but dim actor with a gambling addiction, a paranoid and whiny newscaster, a frustrated lawyer with troubles at home, and a xenophobe with boundary issues. And while the dynamics between the four are fun for a few minutes, they become annoying and repetitive very quickly. By avoiding having only one or two central characters with a changing supporting cast, the writers don’t give anyone much possibility to grow. Recall that these are arbitration meetings and not an actual divorce proceeding, so Sujin and Radhika just shout at each other about the same thing over and over again across the whole season. Tripathi makes a random goofy comment in the middle and Rajni tries to settle everyone down. And that’s literally every episode.
As no emphasis has been paid to develop a proper story arc, Wakaalat From Home relies on the fact that you will like these characters and find them funny. Not for what they say or do, but just for who they are and the lockdown situation they are in. So if someone gets take-out ordered, that’s funny. A child cries in the background, that’s funny. Someone’s mum asks if they want ‘anda curry’ from the kitchen, that’s funny. And if someone’s video freezes, that’s funny. Now imagine if you were working from home and this stuff happened in your house over and over again. It’s funny the first time, and the next time you will pick up your laptop and leave the room. The writers hope that you'll keep sitting and find a sense of humour about it when you really not ought to.
Sait, Dutt, Singh and Vyas are all competent actors and have made their presence felt in the webspace across short and long-form content. But they have such limited one-dimensional material to work with that one can’t blame them for coming across as just plain annoying. Vyas still does a great job with a few rapid one-liners. Otherwise, they will all seem reminiscent of the characters they’ve played in TVF/AIB comedy sketches before.
Music & Other Departments
Obviously the nature of the programme doesn’t allow to experiment a lot with look and score. The editing is pretty competent.Highlights
In episode 2, Sujin has a moment of frustration where he rants - “Samajhne ki koshish karo, yeh Mumbai hai. Yahaan par har tarah ki awaazein aati hain. Construction ki, bache ki, kutte ki, TV ki. Iska matlab yeh nahin hai ki main construction site pe god mein bacha lekar TV dekhte hue kutte ko laat maar raha hoon.” As a resident of Mumbai, I relate. In another episode, he mentions the surrogate dolphin-mom from the movie ‘Ajooba.’ That’s a special fandom.Drawbacks
Everything else. The present season of the show only has material worthy of an episode or two and should have been explored as one lawyer or two with multiple clients, or something. This is not worthy of a whole season, it's a mess.
Did I enjoy it?
No. I only enjoyed the mention of Chunky Pandey and push-up bra in the same sentence. The dialogue writer deserves a raise.Do I recommend it?
No. Attend an actual conference call with your lawyer and your family. It might be funnier.