Interview: Ahead of Little Things S3, we take a trip down memory lane with Mithila Palkar and Dhruv Sehgal
THE FIRST EPISODE of Little Things, a web-series by Dice Media, featuring Mithila Palkar and Dhruv Sehgal, released on YouTube in October 2016 and so far it has been watched by over 15 million people. The show came into being after two sketches featuring them went viral — Confusing Things Girlfriends Say (January 2016) and Annoying Things Boyfriends Do (March 2016) — and their chemistry was loved by one and all. Sehgal was asked to write a series featuring them and he penned a warm story that highlighted how a relationship is all about “doing little things for each other.” The first season was such a hit that Netflix produced its second season, which saw them navigating through the ups and downs of a relationship. Ahead of the Season Three, which will see them in a long-distance relationship, we go down the memory lane with Sehgal and Palkar. Excerpts:
Q: It has been almost four years that you both started working together. How much have things changed in these years for both of you?
Mithila Palkar: A lot has changed. I started my career four years ago. It was around the same time when things started taking off for both of us. Essentially, we both have grown together. What has changed? People have started recognising us on the streets. Thankfully none of my close friends treat me any differently but generally, you have become this person who has been put on pedestal whenever you attend family functions. It is cute. Oh, and a lot more Instagram followers.
Dhruv Sehgal: I am not able to feel alone now, especially when I go out to eat or go for a walk. I always feel that somebody is looking at me, even if they aren’t. So, that’s kind of weird. The overall feeling is mixed. I am more relaxed but I have also started taking myself too seriously. For instance, sometimes I tend to overanalyse all the words that come out of my mouth.
Q: During your interviews, you have said that you didn’t know each other during Season One, and you became text friends during Season Two. Now, that you have done Season Three, have you two finally started hanging out?
DS: We don’t, she lives too far (laughs).
MP: That is actually true! We definitely are friends but we are not the kind who would make a plan and meet. I also think both of us are quite lazy (laughs). When we said we weren’t friends, it came across as if we were really against each other, but we weren’t. It wasn’t like we weren’t talking to each other, but it was like basic ‘hi and hello’ beyond which, we didn’t bother to know each other...back then. Also, we were caught off guard in a way that the show wasn’t planned and happened all of sudden.
Q: Dhruv, what was the brief given to you and how long did you take to write the show?
DS: The brief was simple — you write something majorly featuring both of you. I don’t remember exactly, but I took four days to write the first episode. It was given to me on Sunday and it was done by Thursday.
Q: Was it difficult to build on this brief?
DS: No. Personally, I never wanted to write things that are larger than life or Bollywood-ised. For me, the films that I watched or the books that I have read have always been about the everyday routine. I used to read works of Anton Chekhov and watch a lot of British cinema and American independent cinema, one of which was all about a guy going to collect his pension and another was an entire film shot on Thanksgiving. It is perhaps my anti-traditional Bollywood stand that led me to it. Romance exists everywhere and I wanted to make a show with which I can relate to, which is personal. It is right up my alley in a sense. The challenging bit was how to make a conversation between two people engaging. And, beyond writing, I think it is a lot to do with how it is directed, acted, shot and lit, everything makes it feel warm and close to real life.
Q: How much do you relate to the characters?
MP: Very much. Now it has come to a point that when I am shooting, I can’t switch on and switch off. I have grown with her and it is like she is second skin to me. It is too real, which is scary. (laughs)
DS: Very much. I am 50 per cent Dhruv and 50 per cent Kavya.
Q: Dhruv, we have heard that you draw a lot from your and your friends’ lives when it comes to writing. Is it true?
DS: Nahi (refuses and laughs)! I take a lot of inspiration from my own life, in the sense that it could be my doubts about life. So, the question of who your friends are and what is the importance of friends from childhood. If they add something I personally deal with, I add it. Friends from Delhi keep coming in. That’s something that plays in my head.
Q: Do your friends complain when they watch and figure it out?
DS: They haven’t complained. But, sometimes, they would say — is that how you look at that event? Because I thought it was about this and not that.
Q: While Season One was loved by everyone, the second one drew some criticism. Did it reach you and how did you react to it?
DS: It did. Some felt that it wasn’t as cute as the first season. But, the show never had the philosophy that it is going to be the cutest show. It was about making a show about real life and what it is like to be in a relationship as well as the different phases of a relationship.
Q: Are you nervous about the upcoming season?
MP: I am. I hope we have done justice to the kind of love that we have received so far and it is just this kind of nervousness that’s there.
DS: More than nervousness, there is anticipation. I was really nervous during Season Two. I was losing sleep. But, right now, I am curious to know what people feel about it. Having said that, a lot of people have their own share in it. If I will be anxious then they will also be anxious. Maybe I will be really anxious the night before the release.
Q: When you both started, things were shaping up in the domain of web series. From then to now, how do you see the genre evolving?
DS: It has become systematic, but I fear it has not become as innovative as before. I think the shows that were coming out then had more voice of a creator or writer than now, which is really scary. We didn’t know back then what was working, so we took more chances. Now, I think, people feel that they know what is working and the spectrum of storytelling is becoming limited.
MP: I think it is going to grow exponentially. The only thing is that it is going to be too cluttered to filter out. Also, to do something different is going to be difficult.
Q: Has entry of Bollywood names affected it in any way?
DS: There is a certain hierarchy, I can’t deny that…
Q: Dhruv, In the first season, your character calls himself a Liverpool fan while in real life, you are an Arsenal fan. Do you regret it?
DS: I made a mistake by making myself a Liverpool fan. But, there were two reasons. First, I didn’t know what is the reach of the show going to be. For a neutral fan, I really respect the relationship that the club has with its fans and how the fans support the players. It is admirable. And, second, their motto — ‘you’ll never walk alone’. I think it fits beautifully for a relationship. I never thought it is going to be a big deal. But, now I think, I should have stuck to Arsenal.”
Q: Lastly, what’s next?
MP: I have a Netflix film coming up. It is written and directed by Renuka Shahane, and it features me alongside Tanvi Azmi and Kajol.
DS: I am working on a Dice Media show as an actor. I wrote the concept of the show. Besides, I am writing two more shows.
- CUISINE - MP: Indian Chinese; DS: Veg Kerala food
- WHEN YOU ARE NOT WORKING - MP: Sleep, listen to music and eat; DS: OD on coffee
- BOLLYWOOD DIALOGUE - MP: Kehte hain agar kisi cheez ko dil se chaho … to poori kainath use tumse milane ki koshish mein lag jaati hai; DS: Aap hai India ka future (I say it to my friends when they do something stupid)
- RESTAURANT - MP: O Pedro; DS: O’ Tenga, Andheri
- FITNESS REGIMEN - MP: Functional training; DS: Cycling or running
Also, Watch: Mithila Palkar tells us about her favourite cuisine, her first love and a song she can't help humming
Streams on Netflix from November 9.