Half Pants Full Pants plays out in Tweeland, also known as Malgudi. The ghost of Shankar Nag’s brilliant television adaptation of the RK Narayan stories set in a fictional town in Karnataka looms large over the Amazon Prime Video series.

Anand (Ashwanth Kumar) is a tubby young boy from a town in Shimoga. His father Subbarao works as a guard with the Indian Railways, which leads Anand to declare that his daddy owns the rail network.

Anand, also known as “Dabba”, is full of tall tales and big dreams. Over eight interlinked episodes, the show’s makers follow Anand on adventures that are minor to the adult eye but very significant for our knee-high hero.

The case of a missing dog converts Anand, his best friend Raghu and his wider circle of friends into mini-Sherlocks. An episode and a half are devoted to the widely held belief that coins can acquire a magnetic force when placed on tracks and flattened by trains rushing by.

Based on Anand Suspi’s autobiographical novel of the same name, the series has been adapted by Mani Prasad, written by Suspi, Prasad and Gaurav Mishra and directed by VK Prakash. Half Pants Full Pants plays out in Rajiv Gandhi’s India, before the advent of changes to the national economic policy. This is an era when a 50-paisa coin is infinitely more valuable than Bitcoin and the price of a cassette causes Anand’s forehead to crease with worry.

Bursting with mischief and enterprise, Anand always finds ways to navigate his self-created obstacles. In the most rounded episode, he develops an obsession with Bruce Lee, which lasts as long as the attention span of a boy in a hurry to move on to the next big thing.

The episodes are dunked in nostalgia for the old times and steeped in the belief that the past was a pure and innocent realm. About the darkest force in this sun-kissed corner of India is Anand’s mean-spirited older brother.

Ashwanth Kumar’s endearing presence, a posse of sweet-natured children, and warm performances by the token grown-ups played by Ashish Vidyarthi and Sonali Kulkarni (as Anand’s parents) keep the manufactured idyll on track. If Anand’s escapades are ultimately inconsequential, the show too is content to chase a single-note ambition: simplicity. Few of Anand’s experiences leave a mark – mission accomplished.

Half Pants Full Pants (2022).