The desire to buy a home on their own plot of land propels the Joshis of Dehradun, a family of four, to the Gullak region. It’s unclear how much of this is purposeful, but Home Shanti is meant to extract every last ounce of hilarity from middle-class minutiae.
Unfortunately, with the screenplay straining to maintain a consistent stream of genuine comedy and flashes of insight, Home Shanti just lingers about the edges of its many enticing possibilities and never quite gets its stride. The primary reason this falls short of its purpose is because of its consistent soap-opera appearance.
Home Shanti is more evocative of the mid-1980s sitcom Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing – than of more modern slice-of-life comic series. That is not to imply that Aakanksha Dua’s Disney+Hotstar series, helmed and co-written by her, is without merit.
Home Shanti has several charming moments. It incorporates ideas that strike a chord in its plot. It is another matter that occasionally wanders off in less successful directions. It’s hardly the type of series that leaves you wanting more. It does, however, end on a note that suggests another season is on the way.
The performances of the seasoned Manoj Pahwa and Supriya Pathak are expectedly excellent, the episodic storytelling is genteel despite the inconsistencies, and the challenges of a small-town family engaged in the life-altering act of building a home are real and realistic.
Umesh Joshi, a cricket-crazed Hindi poet, is Pahwa. The generally jovial gentleman is terrified of public speaking. He avoids Kavi’s sammelans like the plague till a friend convinces him otherwise. The event offers a few memorable moments as well as a cash payment that goes a long way toward improving the attitude of the household.
Pathak plays Umesh’s wife, Sarla Joshi, an English teacher and vice-principal at a government school. It is time for the couple to leave their official quarters because the latter has filed her papers and decided to move on in life after 23 years of marriage.
As Home Shanti begins, the Joshi family, which includes Jigyasa (Chakori Dwivedi) and her younger brother Naman (Poojan Chhabra), is preparing for a Bhoomi puja on their tract of land on the outskirts of Dehradun. It is a watershed moment, but aside from the lady of the house, none of the Joshis appear to understand the significance of the rite.
Umesh can’t take his eyes off a cricket match he’s watching on his phone, Naman insists on consuming chicken momos on his way to the site (it’s an auspicious day, and non-veg is forbidden), and Jigyasa has her own hidden plan for a vacation to Shimla with pals under the guise of a seminar.
They’re all late, and Sarla Joshi is at her wits’ end. That, though, is clearly the least of their concerns. The most difficult task for them is to keep the too enthusiastic, always-on-the-go building contractor Pappu Pathak (Happy Ranajit) in control.
Murphy’s Law takes effect, and things become difficult for the Joshis. Neither the subsequent events – the Bhoomi pujan and beyond – nor the elements favor them. But, like other middle-class families, Umesh and his family are obliged to think on their feet when the weather changes. They keep making mistakes, stumbling, gathering themselves, and going.
That is the template established by Home Shanti. Each of the six episodes focuses on a different aspect of the house’s development, from drawing up the floor plan to hiring an interior designer to add finishing touches to the under-construction home, from building the foundation to obtaining government permits.
There are numerous gaps between the strength of hope and the actual construction of the edifice. The Joshis are unable to make smooth progress. Despite all of the to-ing and fro-ing, Home Shanti isn’t the kind of raucous comedy of errors you’d expect. Instead, the show opts for a low-key drama in which the humor comes in little doses and only becomes sparse a little too frequently.
The Joshi siblings’ battles take up a big portion of the show. It bleeds into decisions on the construction of their home. The girl wants her own bathroom, while the boy wants a gym. Their wishes contradict Umesh and Sarla’s idea to construct a designated study place so they don’t have to write poetry or grade papers at the dining table.
Sibling banter usually leads to major altercations, while disagreements between husband and wife escalate into full-fledged shindies. Neighbors frequently get involved and muddle the waters.
On the acting front, Manoj Pahwa and Supriya Pathak stand out. The Joshi children, Chakori Dwivedi and Poojan Chhabra contribute to the show’s success. Nutan Surya, who makes her intermittent video-call appearances count as a cranky Naniji no one wants to be associated with.
The best part about Home Shanti is that it avoids inanity. It does get several home truths across with reasonable success. Even when the series is at its best, riding on the shoulders of Pathak and Pahwa, it is just slightly entertaining.
Comments Home Shanti may not be a three-hour waste of time, but it remains stuck within the four walls of averageness.