ALTBalaji’s series Home is being reviewed by

Review of ALTBalaji’s Home: A gritty, gripping drama on the triumph of the underdog

Emotions are sneaky things; they creep up on you, when you least expect them to, slipping in under your radar and catching you unawares. And guess what? There’s nothing you can do about it. Absolutely nothing. Zilch!! Nada!!

And who better to recognize the captivating power of emotions, than the queen of emotional melodrama herself. Yes, Ekta Kapoor it is that we talk about. Ekta Kapoor sure knows how to tug at Indian audiences’ heart-strings; nay, not just tug at them, but wind them around her little finger, to do as she pleases with them.

Not content with ruling TV-land, Ekta Kapoor has made it her mission to expand her personal fiefdom and reign over the digital realm too. In recent months, she’s unleashed one blockbuster web series after another, each more compelling than the next. Her latest, Home, currently streaming on ALTBalaji, the digital arm of Balaji Telefilms, stands testimony to this fact.

There’s not a single emotion that Home does not touch upon. The web series covers the entire gamut of emotions humans are capable of, and then some. Familial love, sibling rivalry, parental affection, and above all, the ordinariness of the common man surmounting the might of Indian babudom– huge dollops of each of these are present in Home, catering to the taste of a varied palate. But the overriding emotion is that of euphoria- the euphoria of triumph– when seemingly helpless, ordinary, downbeat folk refuse to bow to the whims and fancies of those that rule the corridors of power.

The story of Home is inspired by the true story of the on-going struggle of the residents of Campa Cola Compound, a twenty year old co-operative housing society in Worli, Mumbai. Since years, these middle-class families have been struggling to prevent their homes from being demolished by the BMC. It is a potent tale of grit and determination that had, at the peak of its intensity, gripped the collective consciousness of people across the country.

For those of you living under a rock, allow us to enlighten you with the facts of the true events- Campa Cola Compound is a series of 7 housing societies, constructed on land that supposedly belongs to the Government. Deeming it illegal, the Supreme Court had ordered the demolition of the flats, around 100 in all, leaving the helpless residents in the lurch, for no fault of theirs. After all, the buildings that had come up in 1984 were a result of the unholy nexus between corrupt politicians and unscrupulous builders, who were hand-in-glove with the BMC. The residents, comprising mostly middle-class families that had bought the flats with their hard-earned savings, put up a spirited fight and managed to win a stay on demolitions until they could get their homes regularised by the Municipal Corporation. It was truly a tale that inspired awe and respect for the perseverance of the common man.

Well, and Ms Kapoor, with her singularly unique knack of picking out stories that have the power to capture the imagination of her loyal audiences, zeroed in on it before someone else could. The result– a gripping, gritty drama called Home.

The first episode opens with the forbidding arm of a massive bulldozer crushing the gates of Kala Kruti Society to smithereens, even as its indomitable residents stand strong before its considerable might. Honestly, the scene is shot such that the bulldozer takes on an ominous life-like personality, demonic and terrifying, as it beats down on the society gates. From there on, the series is shot in flashback mode.

The Sethis are a middle class family, residing in Kala Kruti society. Parikshit Sahni plays Birju Sethi, the grandfather; Annu Kapoor plays Hemaansh Sethi, the father; Supriya Pilgaonkar is Vandana Sethi, the mother; and their two children are Vansh, played by Amol Parashar, and Hina, played by Chetna Pande.

Theirs is a loving family, with more than the usual share of issues facing middle class families. The first few episodes seem as if Murphy’s Law has been unleashed with full force within the confines of their meagre existence- Hemaansh’s chit of a boss, in the travel agency where he works, is breathing down his neck and leaves no chance to humiliate him on every occasion. On the other hand, Hemaansh has massive feelings of inadequacy owing to the super-success of his younger brother. A breast cancer scare looms large before Vandana, while Hina’s six-month old marriage is on the verge of dissolution. She’s back at her parents’ place after leaving her alcoholic husband. Vansh dreams of moving to the US for higher studies and then permanently settling there, coz, according to him, India is a sucky country with sucky conditions and sucky traditions. But Vandana’s breast cancer scare puts paid to his dream, because, obviously, funds for his US education now have to be diverted to his mom’s treatment.

But worst of all is the demolition notice sent by the BMC to their housing society– a result of Dadu’s, who is an advocate, overzealousness to file cases at the drop of a hat. His case against the BMC, regarding a petty issue of overbilling, brings the society’s legality, or lack thereof, under the court’s glare, with the result that the entire society is served an eviction and demolition notice. The Sethis are blamed for this, with the result that the entire society boycots them. But amidst all the gloom, one thing stands out with shining luminosity– the love and affection that the family has for each other.

There on starts the fight-back of the residents. After running pillar to post to hire an inexpensive lawyer who is willing to fight their case, and failing to find one, the society residents knock at Dadu’s doorstep to fight the society’s case against the mighty BMC. In between, Dadu suffers a heart attack, and requires urgent stent-placement surgery. The episode is beautifully delivered, with Vansh and Hina putting myriad wheels into motion to arrange a stent for Dadu. It is a moving moment, that reinforces the love and profound bonds that exist in the Sethi family.

Habib Faisal’s direction is so on point and vivid that it feels you’re watching the events take place right before your eyes. The normalcy and ordinariness of the society and its members is realistic to the core. The dialogues are cool, eliciting laughter, tears, joy, and smirks as they go. A special mention is in order for the writers of the show. Besides the fact that the basic premise of Home is based on true events, there are numerous other incidents plucked out from real life and very cleverly weaved into the storyline. The deportation of Indian tourists from Georgia airport and the Government’s price control order on stents that had led to their shortage in hospitals, were a couple of real-life incidents laced into the narrative that caught our eye. Eagle-eyed viewers might latch on to more such incidents in the storyline. Quite an applaud-worthy feat, in our humble opinion!!

The title song is captivating and hummable. It brilliantly captures the ethos of what a home means for a family and sets the pace for the episodes to unravel.

The ensemble cast splendidly props up the plotline. Himani Shivpuri, Paritosh Sand, Pankaj Kalra, Avinash Kunte, Fehmaan Khan, Sunny Hinduja, Khalida Jan are few of the notable ones. Parikshit Sahni is superb in the role of Dadu. The veteran actor had appeared unconvincing and haggardly in his recent movie outings, but in Home, he’s fit and firing on all cylinders. His voice is booming, his presence commanding. Annu Kapoor is outstanding as Hemaansh, as he brilliantly oscillates between helplessness and fighting optimism. Supriya Pilgaonkar is competent as usual, while Chetna Pande has very little to do. But it is Amol Parashar that catches and holds our attention. The show is narrated from his perspective, and he proves to be the lynch pin that he is. He is belligerent, rebellious, a typical angst-ridden youngster, adorable and lovable, at different times, moulding his acting chops to the demands of the script. That he’s eye candy– a sight for sore eyes– does help matters too. Many a girl will fall for him after watching Home- you can take our word for it.

Home happens to be the first work on the figital front of acclaimed Producers, Pintoo Guha and Rupali Guha under their banner FilmFarm India. Hats off for the way in which the series has been executed.

All said and done, Home is a compelling watch, and promises to enthral viewers in the coming episodes with a moving account of the triumph of the underdog. After all, David has to beat back Goliath. That’s what legends are made of!

We, at IWMBuzz, would rate Home 4/5

(Written by Rashmi Paharia)