Cast: Arvind Krishna, Nishanti, Srushti
Director: J Laxman Kumar
Have you heard of MX Player? If you’ve nodded your head vigorously, you’re a legit millennial content consumer. You’ve probably subscribed to every streaming app available in India, or you’ve at least found a way to watch unlimited movies and series via your friends’ accounts. But if you, like me, had no clue about it till now, you’ve come to the right place.
There are about two dozen apps and websites in the subcontinent already that allow you to stream free and premium content, and MX Player has just joined the race by adding a couple of originals. One of them, titled Lots of Love, a Telugu web series (also in Tamil), caught my eye. Apart from a few known faces – Arvind Krishna (It’s My Love Story), Nishanti (Life Before Wedding), and Srushti (Enakkul Oruvan) – the cast is filled with newcomers. However, the crew brims with people who’ve worked on successful feature films before – Art Director Lalgudi N. Ilayaraja, lyricist Krishna Kanth, etc.
But if you go beyond the names of the cast and crew members to see what these people have come up with for the digital generation, you’d be disappointed for you’ll only find a boring series that flirts with clichés from the get-go.
The story takes its inspiration from the hit American sitcom Friends, as a few friends live together – three men and two women live in apartments that are diagonally opposite to each other. And they spend most of their time together in the same apartment. In this case, cinematographer and director J Laxman Kumar doesn’t go for the blue and lavender of Monica Geller’s apartment. He sticks with the marble-floored modern living space that houses Arvind (Arvind Krishna), Karthik (Ram Jeebu), and Vishwanadh Shastry (Prashanth).
And, Reema (Srushti) and Vidhya (Nishanti) retire to the comforts of their quarters only when the clock strikes the midnight hour. Lots of Love is divided into eight episodes that move rather quickly even if it has nothing much to say in the first 60 minutes. Karthik’s girlfriend Sruthi (Ishaara Nair) has broken up with him for not reciprocating her romantic gestures and Reema has hit a wall in her professional life. When Arvind suggests that they go to Goa to get away from these anthills of problems somewhere in the middle of the series, I thought it was going to be a nice change.
But merely moving from a claustrophobic environment of the apartment to the beaches and empty roads of Goa doesn’t do Lots of Love any good. The Goa portions do absolutely nothing to wipe away the vacuum that existed in the beginning. There’s a scene near the lighthouse, featuring Karthik and Vidhya. They’ve travelled all over the seaside town on foot and have finally arrived at a reclusive spot where they can have a heartfelt conversation. One is a freelance blogger who doesn’t know how to shower his girlfriend with affection, and the other is a fashion designer who hasn’t been bitten by the love-bug yet. It’s a great setting to have two lost souls discover feelings for one another. And their inebriated state – of course, it’s Goa, they’re drunk – could have been taken into account to create magic on the screen. Also, if there had been a fantastic dialogue writer at work, it’d have automatically altered the course of the series. But, in the absence of these things, it ends up simply as a moment that has two characters exchanging amorous glances and sharing awkward kisses.
The dramatic introductions of Srinivasa Raju (Sudheer) and Nagalakshmi (Priya Lal), too, don’t spice up the show. And their presence as the love interests of Reema and Vishwanadh, respectively, isn’t something that has the weight to put a smile on your face. Among the characters, I liked Vishwanadh, who’s modeled after Tyson (played by Rahul) from Sekhar Kammula’s Happy Days. The visual metaphor for things falling into place (it’s got something to do with him falling in love and a Rubik’s cube) and the monologue that he utters in the restroom with a pinch of anger and a dollop of sadness were well-done. If the other characters had been fleshed out with the same amount of patience and care, maybe Lots of Love would have become MX Player’s trump card.