Little Things, starring Dhruv Sehgal and Mithila Palkar, has come a long way. From starting off as an experimental YouTube show in 2016 to getting picked up by streaming giant Netflix, only to become their longest-running Indian web series, their journey has been one for the books. The actors, ahead of Season 4 – their show's final season – set to stream from October 15, take a nostalgic lookback at the evolution of their characters Dhruv and Kavya, and simultaneously, their own lives.
Sneha Menon Desai: I want to get it out in the start itself – why are you breaking so many hearts? Why have you announced the season finale?
Mithila Palkar: I am taking the liberty to speak on his behalf too, but both of us also have very mixed feelings about the fact that the show is ending because it's literally his baby, and mine too. We've literally grown up with the show. My sister recently asked me how I'm feeling since it's sort of the end of an era. I didn't even think of it that way, but yes, I think we should just end on a good note.
SMD: I kind of feel like your sister because it's exactly what you said. I feel like I grew up with the show, so I want to know how the two of you are dealing with of letting go of Dhruv and Kavya. That's not a small deal.
Dhruv Sehgal: Its not, but for me, I don't think it's hitting me right now. It will probably hit me when the show will release. The day I wont get a single message about the show, I'll be like, 'Oh, it's officially over. Nobody has written that this helped me through my divorce or this helped me when I was dating this guy.'
MP: I don't know if I am ready to let go of Kavya, I don't think there is any other character so far that I've played with as much ease. If you wake us up in the middle of the night and say, 'Hey we're doing a 5th season,' Dhruv and I will be like, 'Ok, let's do it'. It's that for us. But yes, I don't think it's hitting me just yet either.
SMD: I scientifically tried to understand what it is about Dhruv and Kavya's chemistry. It's not about the physicality because it's quite limited, it's not about grand gestures either. Does it piss you off when you're working with another co-star and it doesn't come to you as organically? Does that happen?
MP: Yeah, it isn't as easy to just glide into a character and come out it, because I think even as a writer, Dhruv has given me the liberty to do whatever I wanted to do with it. Of course, the essence of Kavya is all his, but I had the liberty of saying things I wanted to, I had the liberty to give her my voice.
SMD: Did she become a little bit of you?
MP: Yes, in the 3rd season, for sure. I think I have grown up with her, so that's what makes it easy. It's literally like I've grown up as Mithila, I've grown up as an actor and I have grown up as the character, so it's a lot of things and the growth has happened simultaneously, so she is very close to me. So yes, I don't think it is as easy with [others], but also because it's a show that we've been working on the last 6 years so.
SMD: Tell to me a little about how you grew up with the show. Where were you in life in 2016, and where are you now?
DS: I remember telling my mother today that it was a Wednesday. The bosses at the company, Pocket Aces and Dice, asked me to write something on two people in a room, in a house with limited setup. So on Thursday, I started writing it. I sent it on Saturday. It was a holiday on Sunday, and on Monday, they're like, 'This is really good, we should make this'. I was living with a friend of mine who also edited the promos of the show and I was single then, then I dated someone and then I became single again, then I dated someone again and then I got married! And it's not just me you know who has gone through change, I was looking at the change that has happened in my brother's life and my parent's lives – they're retired now. So, genuinely, it feels like the world has moved ahead. Even though you feel like it hasn't, it actually has, which is kind of nice too.
MP: Exactly. It was like a parallel to my life. As a show and in terms of the making of the show, in terms of what we wanted to tell through the show, the story is that we told through Dhruv and Kavya, also became more personal. Like in the 3rd season, when it became about our parents growing old. That was actually happening at home, and I was like, 'My God, it's just getting too close to home now,' so I think those changes definitely happened, personally and as an actor.
SMD: When we spoke in 2018, you told me that for both your families, being an actor still meant Bollywood. But now, so many years and a Netflix show later, and everything else that you've done, do they give you more bhaav now?
DS: Yes, that question doesn't arise much. They don't ask you, 'par woh wali film kab karega?' They don't ask about that 'woh' idea of cinema. Now they know the kind of person that I am, so now, they say that it's nice what I'm doing.
MP: Yes, it's the same with me. Of course, if I end up doing a 'Bollywood-Bollywood film' on the big screen, which I do once in a while, they enjoy that as well, but this is not an alien concept to them. These are the stories that they actually do want to watch.
SMD: What's the most overwhelming thing a fan of the show has told you over the past 4 years – something that stayed with you?
DS: There have been a lot of divorce stories. It's only now, since the trailer came out, that I've started screenshotting messages.
MP: I, in fact shared one with Dhruv recently from a YouTube comment that said, 'When you guys started the show, I was dating, then in the next season we were in a long distance, then in the next season, we got married and this season, we are going through divorce.' So, essentially, everybody's gone on a journey with Dhruv and Kavya, and that's just so wholesome to know.
DS: And whenever I get a message on my Facebook – not on Instagram – by someone who is above the age of 60, it really touches me, because they message saying, 'I live alone, my kid is here. I am a widow or widower and I watched this show and it's really helped me,' I genuinely believe in the goodness of the show. The kind of logistics that go into making a show makes you feel detached after a point, but the good vibes always connect. Sometimes, we get messages from Turkey and Brazil a lot, you know countries with similar cultural roots and it's really nice.
SMD: What are the little things that you are going to miss in a big way?
MP: Everything. Dhruv's cribbing about having to act, and generally, our collective cribs. I'm sure Ruchir [director Ruchir Arun] and Pat [cinematographer Aniruddha Patankar] are definitely going to miss us cribbing. But yes, [I'll miss] just generally spending time with each other. We have spent a good part of the year together over the last 5-6 years. For him, some time of it goes in the writing, and then some more in the making, and then in the post-production. I think we shot over 3 months for the fourth season.
DS: I'll miss the time that goes in shooting, the time that goes in writing, because when you write a show like this with other co-writers, you talk about your most screwed-up memory from childhood, you talk about the happiest thing that's happened. The kind of intimacy that happens through the journey of the show is what I'll miss. Now, I go on set, and it's an ad shoot or a promo shoot – it's a small shoot. You know that someone will come and do your hair and makeup, the artist would come but there's no connection. With the show, however, we have a connection with the team, which is why our characters say that the summer vacations of their life is coming to an end. But I genuinely feel that the summer vacations are [coming to an end] for at least this part of my professional life. After this, I feel everything will become more serious. And then another phase will come when you can have fun again, but I think now it's just that kind of fun where you think, 'Let's shoot something with your friends today.' I'm going to miss that.
MP: Also, the way we started the show was so raw. We made a show for YouTube first. That's where we started. We were so new to the concept of a web show, which back in 2016, was not as prominent as it is now. We were just experimenting with it. I think if we go back and see our first season, we'll say, 'Ye kya kar rahey the?' And we did that too. We were dubbing for the first season in English for Netflix and Dhruv and I have texted each other every time we've been at our dub sessions saying, 'See, how this is looking like!' and 'Oh, we've definitely gotten better with it.' I think that was such a raw and genuinely new journey for us, because our careers also took off with it. That rawness is something that I am going to miss.