‘Little Things’ S3 Makes the Mundane Warm and Fuzzy Yet Again
There’s a scene right at the beginning of the third season of Little Things, when Kavya (Mithila Palkar) is saying something to Dhruv (Dhruv Sehgal) and he suddenly stops her midway and wipes something off her nose. The conversation then continues.
This season, just like the previous two, is sprinkled with moments of intimacy like these. Conflicts occur but nothing blows up into a crescendo and life simply goes on.
In the previous season we saw Dhruv and Kavya navigate their lives in their little world of cohabitation - the ups and downs of their careers, personal lows and triumphs, everything. This time they’re dealing with the woes that come with being in a long- distance relationship. Dhruv has to move to Bangalore for a six month gig as a research assistant, and Kavya struggles with loneliness in Mumbai.
The treatment hasn’t really changed, it’s still as much about the sweet nothings as it is about the big things in life. Writer Dhruv Sehgal and directors Sumit Aroraa and Ruchir Arun create a world that eschews exaggeration and characters are given the space to breathe, to be be wrong, to be unlikeable even. Dhruv and Kavya argue several times, and initially you want that to blow up, but the makers don’t let it simmer. In one scene, after a heated argument with Dhruv, Kavya proceeds to have a perfectly normal conversation with her mother. There’s no better way to put it, than to say that it just feels real, very real.
In order to capture the ‘little things’ in life, you need an ensemble of actors who do that, and Little Things gets that just right. From Dhruv’s boss Professor Geeta, whose research he was assisting with, to Kavya’s childhood friend Nupur, they’re all fresh faces and feel like they belong to the ordinary world of you and I. In this particular season, it’s hard to understand Dhruv. A bunch of things are not making him feel good, and sometimes we don’t feel good because...we just don’t. And Dhruv Sehgal is able to bring that out beautifully.
Kavya is the kind of calm person I’d want in my life honestly. She pines to be with Dhruv, doesn’t hesitate in expressing that to him, and tries her best to be measured in her responses. Maybe the writing wanted my sympathies to be with Kavya, but that’s just what I instinctively felt.
While trying to deal with her loneliness, she makes a plan to attend a stand-up show with a colleague, only to be later stood up. She then browses through the contacts of her phone to see if she could hang out with any other friend. The moment is so simple, but it’s nice to see the camera capture that. Because, at some point, we’ve all been there, haven’t we?
As Kavya, Mithila’s performance is restrained and cheerful in equal measure, and she delivers her lines with ease, which is exactly what a show like this demands.
The show is also for those of us who’ve been away from home for work/studies. Each time I go home, I find newness even in that familiarity. And that’s captured in the show too. As Kavya goes back to her home in Nagpur, she finds that the experiences of her childhood just mean so much more now. That’s what nostalgia does, it lets us break our routine and look back at times that just seem so much simpler and happier.
There’s an enchanting stillness to the show. Like when Dhruv’s looking at the sky, or when Kavya’s standing in the balcony - these moments of silence are crucial to the storytelling in Little Things. These might sometimes feel inert, because we’re so used to just rapidly switching between Instagram and WhatsApp and Netflix and whatever else, but again it’s ‘real’. The beautiful camerawork and the soft background music also lend the story a sense of calm. The camera slowly moves closer and closer to the characters, giving us a sense of their environment and then, of them.
What I missed in this season, and in the earlier two as well, was a certain level of physical intimacy. This is a couple that’s been living together, and while you do see them cuddling, it never really goes beyond that. Maybe the makers are trying to say that the comfort is evident in other ways, showing them having ‘sex’ isn’t essential. It’s also more evident because the internet has given creators the chance to delve into physical intimacy, but I guess different strokes for different folks.
I’m guessing, it’s hard to capture the mundane in writing and then act it out perfectly. Filmmakers like Woody Allen and Wes Anderson have done that wonderfully in the past. Little Things too succeeds in achieving it naturally. And even if we don’t stop to notice the little things in life, we do so on the show and that’s a good thing.
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