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Work From Home [Gautam Chaturvedi, India, 2020]

At the time of writing this, millions will still be working from home as the coronavirus continues to spread like poison ivy. Gautam Chaturvedi captures the essence of a home working environment in his short film, Work From Home, depicting familiar aspects of quotidian life and the mentality we have inherited during the pandemic.

Work From Home illustrates a family of four living under the same roof during the pandemic. The story, however, centers on husband, Amar, and his wife, Sarika. The excessive online meetings, calls, and boring routines lead to demotivation and exhaustion. As they wonder whether this will be their new life, they reminisce about the old days and mourn about the present. This monotonous sense is further exacerbated when the pair encounter certain unexpected occurrences in their apartment. At first, the characters casually drink their everyday tea, conveying a sense of ordinariness, but this is soon disrupted, and as the threat of coronavirus looms large outside, things begin to turn bitter inside...

As the film revolves around a current issue, the story feels instantly relatable, all the more convincing when it endeavours to investigate the dynamics of marriage and, in this case, its toxic effects. Additionally, with the approaching birthday of their daughter, the sudden revelation of a red dress stuns Amar, leaving viewers to question its significance. Flashbacks and fast-forwards help to effectively dramatise and articulate the story, providing a provocative and engaging aid for the viewer.

The film is shot with varied use of lighting reflecting different times of the day. This mirrors how days go by without excitement when spent entirely at home. The elongated time frame imitates a slow-paced clock, the viewer waiting for its hand to strike the next second.

The film successfully captures life in lockdown and the intrinsic qualities of a marriage, yet some of the film’s sound effects may seem redundant. The sudden change of atmosphere disrupts the flow of the story and distracts viewers from it. Nonetheless, the story is shot well and relates to viewers on a topical level. It marks a historical moment that serves to remind us we should not take the things we consider “normal” for granted.


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