With Season 3 of Little Things, Dhruv Sehgal and team give the most honourable ode to its title. My spoiler free review.
Author: Deepa Bajaj |
November 11th 2019
Little Things, the slice of life series premiered with Season 1 on Youtube in 2016. Its great success helped Season 2 find its spot on Netflix last October. And they bring us Season 3 right on schedule a year later. Featuring Dhruv Sehgal and Mithila Palkar, the show set in Mumbai takes us on the journey of a couple, Dhruv Vats and Kavya Kulkarni, as they navigate through their relationship, career, aspirations and life.
Season 3 takes on the journey of a relationship when it is long distance. But more importantly, perhaps, it actually seems to be exploring another question...
What is the impact of a long term relationship on your individual identity and your identity on a long term relationship? And what can actually allow it to sustain the strain of growing up?
As the couple is coming of age on screen, so does the series team as well, expanding instead of replacing, and bringing in more writers and a director to propel the story forward. The result is creating a Season 3 that elevates the show beyond the oft labelled millennial series.
As Season 3 begins, we see Dhruv heading to Bangalore for a 6-month researcher position for a professor at Indian Statistical Institute in Bangalore, while Kavya continues life in Mumbai. Sounds doable, right? But that's where the 'Little Things' make all the difference.
Season 3 reflects the true coming of age of a millennial couple in India, one that so far met randomly and easily in Mumbai, got to live together before marriage in a big city, with the blessing of their parents, enjoy a fairly luxurious life with decent jobs, and continues to Netflix and chill. (Sorry, couldn't resist.) With no real drama or society to fight until now, as adulthood and responsibility come knocking, so does the need to start making big choices, choices that are not just about themselves.
We see them navigate a long-distance relationship for 180 days that lasts 3 episodes, followed by one episode each taking them back to their roots for 5 days. In Delhi for Dhruv and Kanpur for Kayva, each one comes face to face the reality of time with parents who need them, of acknowledging change within from the person who grew up in that home town to the one each has become, and how it informs relationships with people that also never fade.
It is in his relationship with his mother that you get to see why Dhruv, like most Punjabis, snaps when he is stressed and puts you down, or why he hates being cut off mid-sentence. It is in her relationship with her mother that you see why Kavya has always been the calm presence and where her emotional wisdom often comes from.
You also see Dhruv growing up as he hopes he could have done more for his family during a certain instance. You even see it in the way he dresses, going beyond T-shirts, shorts and jeans as he takes on a more serious approach towards his work and his future.
You see Kayva acknowledge all that she sidelined while enjoying the beginnings of love. You also see her bring back a Ganesh idol reminding her of one she used to carry in her pencil-box from home to Mumbai, maybe to try to reconnect to the person she used to be once.
As the sixth to eighth episode brings in their reunion, so does the need for finding balance again, in the wake of all the little things that have occurred in the last 6 months and 5 days. They may have evolved past the phases of crushes and sexual attraction towards other people to threaten a relationship. But even in an era of Facetime and budget airlines for weekend trips, has that been enough to stay in sync? Friends and family may find it an obvious next step while they are coping with something else altogether, they do have the big M word to talk about too. How do all the key moments in their individual love histories impact them? After all, we are the sums of our past, aren't we?
Do they find their path forward, individually, familially and as a couple? As I said before, the season goes way beyond the travails a long-distance relationship. Do they step into adulthood, confronting all it brings gracefully, as unbelieved by most for millennials?
When you reach that stage of your relationship that you don't want to spend every waking moment with each other, or find happiness in other things and people, excitement in growing outside of each other, have you outgrown the relationship? Or is the relationship evolving into something more resilient to time, circumstance, and momentary experience? Like, family. The journey to that answer lies in conversing about your deepest fears and insecurities, your hopes and desires. And the answer... is in the 'Little Things'.
Kudos to the actors Dhruv and Mithila, who give shape, depth and credence to the characters they've been playing for four years, and all the writers in a season developed by Dhruv Sehgal, with episode writers including Garima Pura Patiyaalvi, Nupur Pai and Abhinandan Shridhar. Sumit Aroraa and Ruchir Arun direct four episodes each with commendable restraint and underlying imagery. A special mention for production designers Nimish Kotwal and Riyaz Shaikh is due too, as they get to do a lot with enough elements of nostalgia and an expanse of changing locations and cities to play with. Just one big critique, the song chosen to end the series seems quite misplaced in tonality, even if I believe in subtext and love Prateek Kuhad's music.
Little Things Season 3 became available for streaming on 9 November 2019 on Netflix. It is produced by Ashwin Suresh Anirudh Pandita, Aditi Shrivastava of Dice Media. Watch the special second trailer released on the same day.