Did life’s summer vacation end? : Looking at ‘Little Things’

Credit: Dice Media / Netflix

‘Little Things’ first premiered on Pocket Aces’ channel Dice Media in October’ 16, and since then we have seen the independent show grow up for two more seasons, with the release of the third installment early last month. Although Netflix took up the series from Season 2, the show hasn’t categorically changed in its temperament of serving a wider audience. That is what makes Little Things instantly recognizable still- the story of two characters making their way through life together, rooted in the ‘everydayness’ of their relationship.

Set in Mumbai, Dhruv Vats and Kavya Kulkarni stay together in a live-in relationship, with Dhruv mostly resigned indoors, having quit his PhD in Mathematics because he was not “having fun”, and Kavya working outside in an office. At first, these differences are not made apparently clear, they are stated as they are, and that becomes fairly reasonable. Season 1 is almost about their space together, missing out on a dinner plan, to spending Sundays at home watching a movie. They are instantly likeable and there is an effortless ease with which the situations unfold, which feels significantly original when considering the space of Indian web series. The dialogues flow with a Richard Linklater-ish tranquility, quietly observant and relatable.

With Season 2 the relationship matures to a level that ensures how both Dhruv and Kavya realize that they have significantly constrasting approaches towards life. In the very first episode, there is a 10 minute long sequence in the car when Dhruv opens up to Kavya about quitting his job, and that shocks her, as she is unable to understand the casualty with which he can just quit without even reconsidering their future. This ensures a soul-baring episode at the end of the season when both Dhruv and Kavya dig out their perspectives on each other. When Season 3 begins, Dhruv has bagged the position of a research assistant that requires him to shift to ISI in Bangalore. ” Toh phir ab long distance?” they ask each other in the very first episode. That the show grows so visibly in terms of breaking out from the fuzzy cocoon of yet another charming rom-com web series is what immediately makes Little Things resonate even more. Further complicating matters is the question that looks over every long-distance relationships- is this the one?

Credit: Dice Media / Netflix

Everything being said, Little Things stays true to these characters in a way that we see them only in the light of their connection to each other. Both Kavya and Dhruv have little to share about their background in the first season. We know them as they are to each other, and considering how inevitable their relationship evolves in the penultimate episodes and seasons, that makes them slightly unrealized. That both Kavya and Dhruv stay together in a live-in relationship is also a fact that is treated with utmost normalcy, a fact that is still so unacceptably treated in the Indian society. That considered, there’s no escaping that Little Things is ultimately about these two characters, and the way in which they live each new day with bitter-sweet results. It stays true to that quotient, undeniably, but despite the accountability, there is a particular hollow in terms of their psychological growth.

Where do these characters come from? What are their beliefs, when each and every space they inhabit is inherently political in its own right? What are their political ideologies? Some of these questions are answered in the penultimate episodes of Season 3, but honestly that doesn’t empty the transition in the character development in a great deal. Only because we are so incredibly acquainted with a space that is at once intimate and personal, both Dhruv and Kavya leave traces that could have been explored in detail. Perhaps because Dhruv and Kavya are made so real that we expect more. Perhaps another season might be the answer!

Contrary to what you have to say about Little Things, it is invariably backed up with assured writing and finely tuned performances. Dhruv Sehgal and Mithila Parkar are instantly likeable, and deliver beautifully controlled performances. Incredibly assured is the manner in which Season 1 has grown into Season 3 in terms of direction, with the interior spaces utilized as a retrospective to maximize the pain of loneliness. The episodes become longer with every passing season, and that could have been a destabilizing factor, but Sehgal’s writing is never out of space, most certainly the strongest force behind Little Things’ accountability as a widely loved show. His breakout stand with “Kaise baat kar rhi he yaar” to Kavya in the beginning of a heated argument is shockingly aware of the nuances of easy, conversational speech. Every time Dhruv utters the sentence, its pierces right through the skin. Little Things is real and beautiful, but is reality beautiful? By the end of Season 3 Dhruv and Kavya know the answers to these questions, but they also know what they mean to each other. The feeling never gets old, even in the moments of shared silences. Little Things is a thing of beauty. Cherish it.

Santanu Das

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