The concerns of a not-so-new couple have been portrayed realistically in this Netflix original series.

Little Things 2 review This Netflix series truly captures modern day Indian relationships
Flix Netflix Thursday, October 25, 2018 - 10:49

After an extremely popular Season 1, Season 2 of the television miniseries Little Things released online recently as a Netflix original. The first five episodes produced by Dice media two years ago won hearts instantly with their realistic and refreshing take on love blooming between two youngsters over little things in the big city of Mumbai.

Little Things 2, directed by Ruchir Arun, takes us back into the lives of Dhruv (Dhruv Sehgal) and Kavya (Mithila Palkar) who have been dating for almost five years now. Season 1 ended with Kavya deciding to quit her job and try her hand at something else, after getting tipsy at an impromptu wine tasting. Season 2 opens presumably a couple of years later. The pair is still in love, but the cutesy romance and cuddling has now given way to the concerns of a not-so-new couple.

Achieving a work life balance, discussing finances, worrying about the future and occasionally taking each other for granted, the couple struggles to adult while still trying to hold on to the innocence that brought them together. The first episode sets up the major concerns of this season when Dhruv’s childhood friend from Delhi visits him after several years. As the two spend time together and recount old tales, we realise, as does Dhruv, that the two have grown up into completely different people. There is a deep friendship there and lots of affection, but their attitudes and approach to life have taken two different paths.

It makes Dhruv wonder if they are even really friends anymore, or just hanging on to something that was over long ago. Should we move on from relationships that don’t feel the same anymore, or respect that you did have a special bond and make it work? This question set up right at the beginning comes back to haunt Dhruv and Kavya several times over the eight episodes in this season, as they realise the fundamental differences in their personality and how differently they perceive the world around them.

He wants things to remain as they were, she wants to break free and explore something new. He would like to live in the moment, slow down and savour the here and now, while she is getting increasingly worried about the future and planning it well. When he quits his job without discussing it with her, she is livid and accuses him of being immature, hurting his expectations of sympathy and understanding. There is a brilliant analogy of their differences to bathing with a bucket and mug or under a shower. He finds a bucket perfectly fine, he grew up having a bucket bath, but she feels that one should aspire for a shower, keep trying to achieve something better.

While the episodes cover just a few weeks in the couple’s life, maintaining the slice of life feel of Season 1, they are definitely better structured and scripted with well-defined conflicts and character graphs. Writer Dhruv Sehgal, who also plays the male lead, carefully crafts this world, where the little things that make long term relationships work are still around but are often eclipsed by the not-so-pleasant realities of life. The direction and production values all show vast improvement, something that can also be attributed to a bigger budget and Netflix’s backing. Luckily, this upgraded look and feel ties into the grown up avataars of the characters who are almost approaching their thirties.

We often see the lights of the city reflected in the glass doors of their balcony, juxtaposing the big bright outside world, with the little fishbowl of the couple’s existence. Often these lights are positioned between the two, illuminating the gap between them, speaking wordlessly of how the world and its ways creep in to even the most close-knit relationships.

While the couple’s squabbles can get a tad repetitive sometimes, the manner in which the show depicts a modern relationship is truly refreshing to watch. Without any grand posturing or verbose articulation, it makes some very important statements on equality, gender roles, and the pressures of sustaining a relationship in a world where social media is a constant yardstick of happiness and achievement. Dhruv is a boy from Delhi, who spends most of his days at home, shops for groceries and cooks Kavya the meals she craves. She is never seen setting foot in the kitchen or participating in any household chores, working long hours and often neglecting her partner at home.

While these fluid gender roles should not be an exception, the complete normalcy with which the show approaches their reality is commendable. Never once is Kavya forced into any cute girl or career girl stereotype, or Dhruv ennobled because he is a man who cooks and cleans. While the season ends on a positive if ambiguous note about the future of their relationship, there are several wonderful moments in the season that make this show an enjoyable watch. The effortless chemistry between the lead pair who are completely believable as a conflicted couple in love, Dhruv spending the day with Kavya’s mother or Kavya meeting an attractive stranger at a work event, a domestic worker and her mischievous son who loves telling jokes, mutton cutlets, vada pav, or an older couple who seem like role models but have struggles of their own.

Little Things is filled with nuanced details that build an intimate portrait of a relationship that has aged and weathered but is still strong. Having been bombarded for decades with high pitched love stories complete with songs, drama and convenient happily ever afters, it’s lovely to watch a couple celebrate the ordinariness of love and the importance of friendship in sustaining any long term relationship. In a world that’s constantly pulling us in different directions, and telling us about everything we don’t have, it’s the familiarity of the little things we share that truly makes for a great love story.

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