By Rachit Raj
House Arrest, unlike many other Netflix Original movies, is not a film that collapses right at its premise. The premise of a man self-imposing a house arrest on himself in order to escape the world outside is an interest starting point. It is, in that sense, a comic, self-induced Trapped with all the luxuries that can be found in the household of a well-off person. The problem with House Arrest is the execution of this idea.
Karan (Ali Faizal) lives alone in his apartment for unknown reasons and no matter what, refuses to step out of his main door (in one of the many strange scenes he gets a brinjal back to his reach by sucking it in his vacuum-cleaner). He is a mysterious man with one irritably intrusive friend JD (Jim Sarbh) who appears to us only as a hologram of sorts whenever Karan is having a telephonic conversation with him.
The story follows two threads for the largest part of its runtime. One involves his neighbour Pinky (Barkha Singh) leaving a “package” at his place as she goes to a parlour and a wedding, ignorant to Karan’s plight but always ready to have sex with him (without his consent, by the way). The second thread is about Saira (Shriya Pilgaonkar), a journalist who is interested in the house arrest story of Karan.
The screenplay by Samit Basu lacks any purpose or poignancy, following a predictable path which eventually comes in the way of the movie’s intended comic sequences. There is very little happening in the narrative beyond its premise. You already know that Karan and Saira will end up sleeping with each other, and that “package” will become a hindrance in their brewing romance, only to be a passing threat to their solid connection as two broken, disoriented individuals.
There is a twist in the intentions of JD but that seems less plot-driven and more actor-driven. Certain actors almost inevitably demand a certain trait in the character they play on screen. Jim Sarbh is one such actor who almost comes on screen with a spoiler alert of his character having grey shades. The tragedy of House Arrest lies in its inability to use this Jim Sarbh-character to any significant use beyond a device that helps the writers in resolving the primary conflict of the movie in less than five minutes.
Unlike Drive or Rajma Chawal that were all disasters right from the word go, House Arrest feels more like a missed opportunity. This could have been a fascinating examination of the need to find some quiet, “me” time in the fast-paced, competitive world we live in. In Ali Faizal, Shriya Pilgaonkar and Jim Sarbh there is enough talent on screen here to have made this a good watch. Sadly, the writing is too convenient and staged to leave any impact.
Streaming on: Netflix