Creators: Sasi, Rohit
Cast: Sasi, Karthik Sabareesh, Kiran Kumar
The first season of Story Discussion, on YouTube, has been making all sorts of noise for three years now, but I caught it only last week. It’s truly refreshing in more ways than one. Though it looks like the result of a late-night brainstorming session, it knows where its goal is. It cooks up a storm by combining biting satire along with a pinch of drama. However, the same things cannot be said about the second season. The new batch of ten episodes mimics — and slowly morphs into — mainstream cinema.
When Mohan Kumar (Sasi), the filmmaker around whom everybody kowtows makes rash decisions, it comes with a sign of approval. People talk nonsense behind his back, but they generally agree that he’s one of a kind. Kumar is a genius because he turns everything he touches into gold. And he knows what to make at the end of the day. He mostly works with newcomers so that he can have total creative control. But, when it comes to his twin brother, Prakash Chowdary (played by Sasi, again), all that remains is a thick cloud of hopelessness.
Unlike Kumar, Chowdary doesn’t have a team of his own. He has stayed away from the field of movies and entertainment for a decade. And, now, he’s all set to make a comeback with yet another crime movie. If I’m making this prologue sound pulpier than it is, kindly forgive me.
Chowdary is arrogant and full of himself. He also expects his juniors to address him as “sir.” And he thinks he’s above his minions since he’s from a wealthy, upper-caste family. He doesn’t actually say those words out loud, but you can gather these pieces of information from the manner in which he treats the people who belong to the working class. Although he lives a solitary life in a small house on the uppermost floor of an apartment, he’s not really poor.
Is this a story of a director who’s dubbed a one-hit wonder? Yes. But is this a story that’s worth your time? That’s definitely debatable. The second season essentially takes off from a runway that’s riddled with bullets. Surrealism joins the forces of satire and drama here, but, as the show painfully follows an egotistical man, it loses its fragrance. You can’t take your eyes off the screen every now and then and hope that it’d get better. Nevertheless, if you’re determined to fix your gaze on a butterfly that arrives unannounced, you’d be doing yourself a favor.
Since Chowdary is the protagonist, he becomes an omnipresent figure, especially from episode two onwards. But the key difference between the two seasons is the element of surprise. Almost nothing takes your breath away and you’re left waiting for a miracle to save the day. If you think about it, even Kumar is not a thoroughly likeable character, but he’ll still keep you glued to your seat. The jibes that he throws at his colleagues — and the movie industry itself — are a hoot. He’s a successful director who believes in the mantra of serendipity. There seems to be a method to his madness – after all, he’s a winning horse.
With Chowdary, however, there’s absolutely none of it. It’s not just the lack of freshness in his persona that made me ache for Kumar’s presence, it’s also the somberness that made me want to reimagine the whole season. This happened to me earlier with season eight of HBO’s hugely popular Game of Thrones, too. As a regular consumer of TV shows, you walk into the later seasons with a lot of expectations and desires, and when they’re not met, you’ll feel the sharp edge of disappointment on your back.
Most of the cast members from season one return for Story Discussion 2, albeit in flashes. Hence, you won’t be able to prolong your relationship with them. Yet, some folks, such as Mani Kishore (Karthik Sabareesh) and Manikya Rao (Kiran Kumar), anchor the series with all their might. Somewhere towards the end, there’s a whole stretch that’s constructed around a dialogue writer (he’s roped in to pen the lines for Chowdary’s comeback film) in a farmhouse, who muses on the advantages of meditating in a peaceful area. He tells his assistant to enjoy the greenery and closes his eyes to achieve tranquility.
He may have certainly found his peace there, but I sorely wished for a killer (from Chowdary’s script) to make a cameo appearance in order to scare the living daylights out of him. At least then, I’d have chuckled.
*Story Discussion 2 is available for streaming on Avanti Cinema.