Back when the first season of Permanent Roommates was out, people were excited and delighted to watch a genuinely good Hindi show after years. “Web-series”, as it is called, became a common and famous term when The Viral Fever (TVF) presented us this show. We were introduced to believable characters, a casual and simplistic setting with a couple in the forefront going through everyday problems. It left viewers with a satisfying end.
Then came Pitchers, still hailed as the best Indian web-series. It delved into an untouched world of startup and came up with a crackling story. Thus gaining a massive following and a permanent place in pop culture. With a Marvel-style end credits scene, we were teased of the upcoming season 2 of Permanent Roommates. The pressure on the makers was not only to bring justice to the previous season, but also to meet the exceeded expectation thanks to Pitchers.
With the first episode itself, it was quite evident that the ambition of the series doesn’t match that of Pitchers. It was treading the lines of regular family dramas. But is that a bad news?
The intimate confiding plot of season 1 exploded this time with an ensemble of long forgotten but exceptionally talented actors. Sheeba Chaddha and Darshan Jariwala playing as Mikesh’s parents, Asrani as his grandfather, Ayesha Raza Mishra as Tanya’s maasi along with Shishir Sharma returning as Tanya’s father get involved and urge their children to marry when Tanya is expected, rather unexpectedly.
They aren’t dramatic as in the regular TV soaps, but quirky enough to be called fictional. Darshan is particularly entertaining to watch as the over-enthusiastic father. Even characters with one-episode role like that of Mrs Khatri (Ratnabali Bhattacharjee) has been perfectly casted. Deepak Kumar Mishra as Purshottam is still an important part of the story, though I found him more amusing in the previous season. The fan-favourite Anandeshwar Dwivedi as Leo makes a swag cameo. In the midst of all, Mikesh and Tanya haven’t lost their way and are still effective. The show gives Tanya a lot more space to shine and Nidhi Singh does so charmingly. She is a great find and deserves a good Bollywood debut.
Halfway through this review and I haven’t even talked about the best thing about the show yet – Writing. Biswapati Sarkar had already firmed himself in my list of favourite writers with Pitchers. His screenplay are where I find the best resonance in. A careful observations of small everyday things, realistic and non-stereotyped characters, witty lines and subtle comedy – he incorporates everything that makes for a good story. I won’t be wrong if I say that Sarkar is one of the best storytellers India has ever had. At least for me he is.
Here, he goes on to prove why. As I’ve mentioned the storyline might bear resemblance to tonnes of TV soaps and is nothing unconventional. But what makes the series infinitely better than any of them is the charm that Sarkar brings in. There are no evil characters or overtly dramatic scenes. The show improves over giving twists and passing small social messages. In what I think was the best episode, he tries to construct a whodunit so wonderfully that it leaves you guessing throughout. The direction, credited to him and Deepak, is equally brilliant.
The production design is like a vintage TVF product – impressively detailed and slick. The exponential rise in budget is noticeable, but then they managed to cleverly market their title sponsor in the show to make up for it.
But ultimately, we somewhere knew this won’t be as flawless as Pitchers. Sometimes the quiet surrounding and slow pace can bore you, specially when the episodes are over an hour long without any breaks. Like the wedding episode of season 1, there are more episodes here that features a small plot in itself. Through them, the lead characters are guided towards making a crucial decision. It is an interesting device, but a tad overdone. The show has gone over-the-top for comic purposes at some places that feels unnecessary. And the finale was a little disappointing.
All said and done, one can easily look past the flaws and enjoy watching the journey of Mikesh and Tanya towards parenting and marriage. The makers do improve a lot from the first season and try their best to live up to the expectations. I even thought they can’t come up with a better intro, but they actually did! So what if they stumble a few times?
A show like this is more than fit to be on TV rather than on web. With an almost clean language, doses of familiar comedy and family drama and a solid story it could have been a hit as a GEC show and get the kind of money it deserves. But I guess such harmless shows are also brought down because of stupid programming guidelines.
In short, Permanent Roommates’ Season 2 has so much going for it that it is already a must watch (also given the fact that you can legitimately watch it for free). Just be aware that it can better be called as a soap rather than a series. And no, it is not bad news.
Even with the production of web-series on the rise, TVF is still the leader and comes up with the best.