Cheesecake review: TVF's new web series on MX Player doesn't go beyond a pleasant slice-of-life watch
The Viral Fever's (TVF) new web series Cheesecake has all the elements of a perfect slice-of-life set up — a young couple dealing with interpersonal issues, a fast city life that keeps going back to a time when things were simpler, a close look at adulting in modern day, and amidst all this, a perfectly adorable dog.
Jitendra Kumar and Akanksha Thakur (who have worked opposite each other in several TVF videos) bring in a relatable perspective in their portrayal of the harrowed couple, who somehow have forgotten to love each other under the pressure of their intense work lives. The two characters, Neel and Sameera, are irritable, snappy, and generally squabbling all the time. Having reached a saturation point of sorts, they then move ahead in life as two not-so-mildly frustrated souls trudging through the craziness that is Mumbai.
The titular character, a lost dog, enters their space, and things automatically seem brighter, more sorted, and (contrary to belief) calmer. Jitendra, or Jeetu, as he is known among his creator friends, lends believability to Neel. A shy guy, possibly from one of the non-metro cities, Neel is all about the simple pleasures of life. He minds his own business, and is generally averse to any form of change. There is a wonderful scene where the makers doff their hats to the old-world rustic Bombay, when Neel and Sameera sit in a tapri (tea stall) while sipping hot tea and listening to old Bollywood songs. The show is reflective of Bombay (as it is referred to by the city lovers), and its indomitable charm.
Thakur's Sameera, on the other hand, demands much more from life. She is dissatisfied with her negligible fee hike at her corporate firm. She insists that she is just a slave to the bigger fish in the pond, and is consistently angry with Neel for never stepping up and taking responsibility in their three years of marriage.
The dynamics change drastically on Cheesecake's unexpected entry. A love-hungry canine by nature, he showcases acute bouts of anxiety when left alone. Naturally, Neel and Sameera return to a house torn to shreds, with Neel's newly-bought pair of boxers placed comfortably between the new member's teeth.
The series captures the turmoils within the couple exhaustively, especially after Sameera brings Cheesecake home post a drunken night. Neel lets his exasperation known, and even comments at a point, "Why would humans voluntarily take on the responsibility of something that will always remain dependent on them." But where director Palash Vaswani stretches it a tad too much is Neel's insistence to get the dog out of the house. I mean — there is only so much one can do when a pair of puppy-dog eyes look at you longingly.
After a few rounds of unconvincing crises, Cheesecake finally settles into his new home. The plot point about dog communicators and understanding the factors that lie behind a dog's depression, though appreciated, is still borderline amateur. The makers could have been much less preachy, and way more nuanced in their portrayal of it.
A simple crux as its base, Cheesecake, much like the dessert, is sweet and light.
But the makers miss the mark by a mile with this one. Ever since Dice Media's Little Things created a sub-genre of web series, dealing with banal ups and downs of life, and seeking out wonderful content behind it, many have tried to follow suit. Cheesecake seems a feeble attempt at precisely this.
John Grogan's Marley & Me brought forth the compelling story of a family strongly bonded by its love for the sloppy, over-excited ball of energy. But the show barely scratches on the surface of that sheer joy and consequent heartbreak on being separated with the man's best friend. In its attempt to make a feel-good series, Cheesecake succeeds, but falls flat in its promise of a creamy aftertaste.
Cheesecake is now streaming on MX Player.
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Updated Date: Nov 29, 2019 13:51:03 IST