Little Things 3 Review: Bonding in separation
The third season is a personal, cathartic experience that might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
In the final episode of Little Things Season 3, Kavya asks Dhruv, “What were those days? When we used to spend all those days making sandwiches, sleeping, watching TV, killing mosquitoes.” That was Season 1 when we were introduced to Kavya Kulkarni (Mithila Palkar) and Dhruv Vats (Dhruv Sehgal). At first, the show was on YouTube, a cutesy little show of little things that two people share in a live-in romance. The most striking thing about the show was its freshness, the convincing casting, even if it felt too cheesy. But with its second season, Kavya and Dhruv grew up, quite literally and figuratively. The show found a place in Netflix’s catalogue. And thematically, the second season addressed a lot of new-age questions that couples face. Career over love? Material enrichment vs mental peace? Marriage?
If the second season spoke about the questions that Dhruv and Kavya face together, the new season takes us into their personal struggles, and what those struggles and choices mean to their relationship. Dhruv takes up a position as a research assistant in Bangalore for six months, while Kavya stays in Mumbai. In a game of ‘worst-case scenarios’, Dhruv and Kavya list out all the possible scenarios. "What if we get bored of talking to each other on phone?" "What if I don’t come back to Bombay?" "What if I have a crush on someone else?" "What if I start having more fun without you?" In a way, the show sets us up for what is about to come. Most of these what-ifs do happen.
Cast: Mithila Palkar, Dhruv Sehgal
Creator: Dhruv Sehgal
Dhruv finds a new happy place in Bangalore, where he feels professionally productive. The workaholic in Kavya, who initially bears the brunt of Dhruv’s absence, moves forward to find friends she can spend time with. From being in the same circle, Dhruv and Kavya have now moved to a Venn diagram social circle. The two do stay in touch. But they are distant witnesses to everyday changes. The routine is filled with newer things, newer people, while their love feels like the rectangle impression that old photographs leave on walls. Does that mean the emotion behind them is any lesser?
There’s a lot of mature writing that pushes the season forward, the intensity of which does not make for simple entertainment. There is no reluctance to shy away from capturing the empty moments, the silences, the hesitation--which punctuate our lives. Mithila and Dhruv are excellent, forming a rare partnership that looks 'conjugal' on screen. Like in the earlier season, Dhruv Seghal comes up with a new set of questions that millennials face. While a sustaining relationship means accommodating the other person as well, how far do we go to maintain the balance? Is it necessary to share everything with each other? And it’s not just about their relationship, it’s also about the one they share with the rest of the world. There are a couple of episodes where Dhruv and Kavya both go home to spend some time with their parents. Except, what used to be home, isn’t the same now. The routes have changed, the spots have changed. And the people, they are different too. Kavya notices the lines on her mother’s face, the extra tablets her father is taking, while Dhruv just looks at his mother’s cracked heels, acknowledging the strain they have faced over the years. The show beautifully catches the guilt and fear that accumulates as we get sucked a bit deeper every day, removed from the world that used to be ours.
There is some terrific dialogue and conversation that runs throughout -- one that just makes your heart just well up a bit. Like the time when Dhruv says he misses the back of Kavya’s head, as he can’t see it in video calls. Or when Kavya says that she is tired of seeing him in rectangles. There is a conversation that Dhruv has with his mother after a spat, which will stay with me for a long time. The show is well-directed too with symbolic staging placed neatly throughout. For example, when Dhruv and Kavya have their last heart-to-heart, Kavya is resting her head on Dhruv’s midriff. Perpendicular lines with each line having their path, but yet remains connected. And the song in the background says it all, “the best days of our lives are gone. But we are still holding on.” Maybe that is love.
Often I wonder how life and love have become so complicated for this generation, compared to the previous one. Or as Dhruv puts it, “It feels like someone has changed all the rules of the game.” We are a generation that is searching answers for questions we aren’t really sure of. It is this exploration that Little Things 3 captures; an expedition to find some answers and in the process, uncover more questions. With its pregnant pauses, laboured silences, Little Things 3 speaks of the new-age life where we make our own rules to the ever-changing game. It’s a personal, cathartic experience that might not be everyone’s cup of tea. And that’s okay. After all, when has love been easy to understand?