Fingertip web series Review: An eerie reminder of the destructive power of apps
The performances of the lead actors, especially that of Sunainaa, Gayathrie, and Ashwin, are some of the best we have seen in their career so far
Heard that adage about how science is a good servant but a bad master? In today's globalised society, we rely on smartphones for many things including shopping, dating, maintaining relationships, and to convey our opinions. With the dependency on technology increasing every day, are we aware of its dark side? We have seen this shown in films like Irumbu Thirai, or ironically, in forwards shared in our family group on WhatsApp. Zee5's latest series, Fingertip, in its five episodes, shows us how technology abuse affects lives.
Cast: Akshara Haasan, Ashwin Kakumanu, Gayathrie, Sunainaa, Madhusudhan Rao
Director: S Shivakar
This five episodes of this ‘social media thriller’ are titled Greed, Rage, Betrayal, Lust, and Vengeance, respectively. While I expected a localised version of Black Mirror, Fingertip is made different by its focus on these separate emotions. Unlike Black Mirror that deals with futuristic tech, the apps mentioned in Fingertip are in the now. If you are reading this piece on your mobile phone, these are all phone apps that are likely running in the background.
I was intrigued by the backdrop of these stories. Greed is about Rekha (Sunainaa), and her addiction to Cliker, a photo-sharing social networking site (similar to Instagram). It’s about how her ambition of becoming a social media influencer creates a rift in her relationship with husband, Vijay (Shiva Kumar). Rage is about Krishnamoorthy (Madhusudhan Rao) paying the price when a heinous fake message is circulated by a ruffian on the cross-platform messaging app, Gibber (WhatsApp). Betrayal has Priya (Akshara Hassan), who finds herself in hot water after someone close to her uses her profile and posts a startling status on My Amigo (Facebook). Lust follows the story of Sandhya (Gayathrie), and the repercussions of trusting a stranger on a dating app like Qupid (Tinder). Vengeance, the final episode, shows the fall of film star Sanjay (Ashwin) who is hooked on to the microblogging app, Expressit (Twitter).
The trailer had a quote that went, "Social media addiction is like committing suicide in daily instalments." But save for Greed and Lust, the other episodes detail the negative consequences caused by others. Despite all five stories being unrelated, director Shivakar looks to convey that these are all incidents happening in the same universe, with some characters even making crossover appearances. The idea is praise-worthy, not so much the execution.
I liked that the five stories aren’t just about the respective apps they are centered on. They dwell into the cons of living a fake life just for the sake of accumulating followers. They talk about sexual harassment in the workplace, the lack of trust in today's friendships, the MeToo movement... The messages put forth are very many: The real-world matters more than the virtual one, appearances can be deceptive, decisions taken by an unsound mind can have long-standing consequences, missteps can come back to haunt you... Subtle scenes, like the one that has Krishna saying no to a phone call from his grandfather Krishnamoorthy as he is busy playing a game in his phone, are big talking points in this series. The performances of the lead actors, especially that of Sunainaa, Gayathrie, and Ashwin, are some of the best we have seen in their career so far.
On the whole, the web series is a criticism of how something as small as a phone has come to control our lives. A character in the final episode makes the incisive point that we are all living inside a glass house and handing over stones to others. After watching the series, I posted an Instagram story about it. The series did not make me uninstall it, but it made me a wee bit uncomfortable and got me thinking about my potential overuse of these apps. That’s success enough, I think.