Everything’s bigger about the second season of Little Things. The success of its first installment, which was released by Dice Media on YouTube in 2016, landed its makers a deal with Netflix. The higher production value has translated into a glitzier look. There’s also a new director, Ruchir Arun, whose short film, Mandrake Mandrake, won the National Film Award in 2014.
But most of all, it’s the challenges faced by its lead pair that have grown in size. If season one was about dealing with late-night food cravings and social media-induced FOMO, season two is about professional and personal crises, big decisions and important life choices.
But the charm (and the name) of Little Things came from its relatability and the way its protagonists jointly negotiated everyday concerns. So does the bigger mandate work?
The first season introduced the always-charming Dhruv Vatsa (Dhruv Sehgal) and Kavya Kulkarni (Mithila Palkar) as a young couple living together in Mumbai. Little Things unfolded as five loosely connected, short episodes that traced a day in the life of the much-in-love pair, who were largely driven by the quest for good food and good times. Their chemistry was pitch-perfect and the romance breezy and light, only briefly interrupted by conflict.
In season two, which was released on Netflix on October 5, the sunny skies give way to storm clouds and the couple that helped each other through their mini-crises seem to be at sea with bigger challenges, turning their backs on each other as the waters rise.
The serious tone is evident even in the opening episode, where Dhruv reconnects with a childhood friend, only to realise how far apart they’ve grown. The crisis is soon resolved with Kavya’s advice, but is an early sign of a season that is trying to dig deeper as it examines themes of estrangement and uprootedness. Things come to a head later, when Dhruv quits his job because he has lost interest.
This professional setback sets the tone for much of the ensuing conflict. While Dhruv is aimless, Kavya is at the peak of her game, having gotten a promotion and pay hike at her new workplace. The vast gap between their career graphs brings to the fore other differences. The petty and easily forgiven squabbles of season one give way to intense and sometimes ugly fights. Further complicating matters is the question that looms over many long-term relationships – is this the one?
As the show embraces turbulence, the actors sometimes seem out of their depth, especially in heated moments. The strain between the two is evident even in the opening episode, making you wonder about what became of the rock-solid relationship in season one. It’s as though there was an intervening season of their lives, where the rifts began to appear, that was skipped. The dialogue, another strong point of the show (Sehgal is also the writer) seems unnatural during the more serious moments.
While Little Things remains watchable throughout, the show is undeniably at its best when Dhruv and Kavya are at their best. While conflict may have been a natural progression for the couple and the series, the levity that made the show so popular is sorely missed. Neither does the show dig deep enough into their problems to uncover something truly profound. By seeking depth in external and sometimes contrived situations, the show seems to sidestep its strongest point. Still, Little Things is frequently charming, often relatable and never boring.