Directors: Sumit Aroraa, Ruchir Arun
Cast: Mithila Palkar, Dhruv Sehgal
Streaming on: Netflix
One of the greatest indignities of being in love is a conviction your lover loves you lesser than you love them. It’s odd since you do not know how to confront such a conviction, because there isn’t a scientific hack to quantify how much one loves. As a result, you end up ranting, throwing words hoping something sticks, without much reason; this conviction isn’t cerebral, it is visceral.
The third season of Little Things is about reconciling with this indignity. No one reasons to a conclusion, but rants towards it, in the process of collecting something that makes sense, and perhaps is the root cause of the anxiety. This ranting that is exciting to watch initially, ends up becoming repetitive and obvious towards the later episodes.
Kavya and Dhruv are a live-in couple who met and loved in a gradually eroding, and brash Mumbai. They are being confronted with the reality of a long distance relationship as Dhruv takes up a research stint in Bangalore. The promises fray, the video chats become increasingly militant, and the initial optimism is struck by a sledgehammer of insecurity. When Kavya confides “Sometimes I feel I am more into Dhruv than he is,” the conflict is captioned out loud.
Parallel to this track of Kavya and Dhruv trying to figure out who they are together between the devil and the deep blue sea, are two tracks of each of them trying to individually figure themselves out- who they are, what they want, where they want to be, and where is home? A lot of this, especially the ‘career versus love’ agony has been beautifully captured in movies like O Kadhal Kanmani. While both are shot in a rather sanitized format, Little Things notches up on the rants. They are longer, more indulgent, and far far more frequent. Not all the tracks are equally engaging. Kavya’s story of going back to Nagpur to be with her parents as her father retires, is one of the most stunning soft punches to the gut- the sense of time having moved glacially till you realize it has been decades in the same company, the ageing dog, the security guard who wasn’t invited to the retirement party, the familiar friendships of childhood, the pajama that still fits, the shops that you had eaten in that are now either sold off or renovated into newness, it’s all deeply moving. At one point as Kavya is unhappy with the dessert as compared to how it tasted a few years ago, her friend tells her, “It tastes better. You are just cranky it doesn’t taste familiar.”
Dhruv Sehgal playing Dhruv is suitably mopey, and Mithila Palkar as Kavya is deeply endearing. Their love for each other, and their comfort in sharing space is a delight to watch
But the other track, of Dhruv going back to Delhi to help his mother feels stretched, and much of the tension between Kavya and Dhruv feels unedited, and sprawling. What hurts the series most however is the need to provide fine conclusions to some of the most inconclusive anxieties of being in love.
The growth of the two of them as a couple is understood only as they converse with each other, articulating that indeed they have grown. Not much of what we see, the daily mechanics of living together feel like they have grown. There is also an episode where snippets of their past loves, and thoughts are edited side by side; it is deeply ineffective in trying to show the evolution of thought and heart, and should have been axed for a tighter season. As a result the finale too feels oddly constructed. But in the company of the saccharine lovers, the faults blur, if not entirely disappear. Dhruv Sehgal playing Dhruv is suitably mopey, and Mithila Palkar as Kavya is deeply endearing. Their love for each other, and their comfort in sharing space is a delight to watch. But somewhere this story becomes about the disaffected nature of youth today who seek both, to be rooted and to fly beyond.
I remember a striking line in an episode of a Modern Love podcast, “to love is to risk great unhappiness”. The point is for love to compensate for all the unhappiness and the indignity it throws at you. Little Things, the third season at least, does a beautiful job at showing this aftermath of love. But I wish they had considered a more efficient way of doing the same.