Dhruv Sehgal on making an honest show out of Little Things, the polarising views on finale, and what's next for him

This season told me how obsessed India is with marriages. It is not just the previous generation but the current one too,' says show creator Dhruv Sehgal on the final instalment of Little Things.

Ragini Daliya November 15, 2021 14:00:39 IST
Dhruv Sehgal on making an honest show out of Little Things, the polarising views on finale, and what's next for him

When we first met Dhruv (Dhruv Sehgal) and Kavya (Mithila Palkar) in 2016, the couple introduced us to their charming live-in equation with microscopic conversations around Sunday plans. But once having moved past their honeymoon phase, the second and third season of Little Things dove into biting reality with an increased focus on their families, career paths, and difficulties of long distance.

The fourth and final season of the show begins with the purpose of giving a conventional conclusion to the couple's journey. They reunite in Kerala after spending 14 months apart. They have endured the distance, growing as individuals, and are now ready to talk about their status quo while acknowledging the pressures of work and life.

"Fans were rooting for them to have a happy ending. And not just a happy closure, but they were waiting for them to get married. This season told me how obsessed India is with marriages. It is not just the previous generation but the current one too," says Sehgal over a Zoom call.

People have loved these characters, and moreover, their simple universe which feels real and lived-in. Perhaps the beauty of Little Things is in its writing —it is tough to keep it that simple/believable.

Dhruv Sehgal on making an honest show out of Little Things the polarising views on finale and whats next for him

However, Sehgal (creator, and writer of the first three seasons) admits that his attempt was never to make a 'simple' show. "For me, it is a show about two people who are not scared of sharing their thoughts with each other. I think it is a beautiful notion, to be honest, lay baring all your vulnerabilities because it’s a very difficult thing. Hence, I thought let’s just have these two individuals who will have honest, uncomfortable conversations, and solve things. There are moments in the show where they are not nice to one another, and yet they make it work.

Yes, it may seem simplistic but the ambition was never to create a simple show, instead to showcase the idea of freedom within relationships. Little things is about what happens between two people who are free in a relationship. Hence it is aspirational, and not simple."

The honesty is probably what has helped the show create a universal appeal, and specifically, across age groups. Sehgal confesses to getting recognised in coffee shops by teenagers and people in their early 50s alike. "I get a lot of messages from people living abroad, probably alone, and also belonging to different age groups. Sometimes some really old women, or sometimes from someone who's just got divorced. While I still don’t know why it connects to all age groups, I will have to assume it is probably because we created an honest show though I don’t think it is 100 percent honest because it can’t be for various reasons. We respected that, and I think that transcended onto the age thing. Also, I did not want it to be restricted to just these two people but to their friends, family, and colleagues, and probably that must have also been a factor."

For a series which started off as a cheesy, enjoyable rom-com, Little Things has surely come a long way. Over time and over the seasons, Dhruv and Kavya manage to create a harmonious chord around their relationship. They understand each other's insecurities, they do not intrude into each other's space, and when things become too much to handle, they let the other person in to solve things together. In the third season, we meet the families for the first time, and through them, we see another side of Dhruv and Kavya.

Dhruv Sehgal on making an honest show out of Little Things the polarising views on finale and whats next for him

My personal bit from the show was the episode when the characters return to their hometown, to their families, and for the first time, realise that their parents are growing old. More difficult conversations follow, and a lot more heartwarming moments arise. However, the tug of leaving your ageing parents behind to find a life of your own forever remains a hard truth.

Sehgal says the impact of these scenes felt far more personal while writing as opposed to performing it on the sets. "I remember crying while writing the script for Season 3 Episode 5 – the one where Dhruv goes home. So because I was crying, I felt I have hit some part of my core. It has also happened while discussing in the writer’s room. Sadly, the way we make films here, and the way we tell our stories, the grammar, and also in other parts of the world, is so mechanical, that it is difficult to feel the impact of the emotions while acting as opposed to while just performing in the most natural way. So chances are I may feel it in the second take or maybe after eight takes. Hence, I prefer writing because it translates a lot more as compared to acting."

"It also happens while watching. Sometimes it hits a nerve when you run lines with the actors. It happened when I was rehearsing with Loveleen Mishra (who played my mother), and Vikram Kocchar (who played my friend Sandip). With Loveleen, she was discussing what kind of mother she is, and I was talking about how my childhood had been, what kind of parent I would want to be. Hence, the conversation and script led to an atmosphere, so there are too many factors contributing to acting as opposed to when you are writing, where there is a one-on-one conversation. Hence, sometimes it may dilute the feeling, or increase," Sehgal adds.

Dhruv Sehgal on making an honest show out of Little Things the polarising views on finale and whats next for him

Dhruv Sehgal, Vikram Kochhar in Little Things Season 3

Perhaps this subtlety, the ability to solve things with utmost calmness, is what I missed in the fourth season. The need to end the final season on a high note left the makers to rush things up as the curtain falls. Take, for example, the troublesome relationship between Dhruv and his father. Despite the hype surrounding this equation, reconciliation happens too quickly.

When I asked Sehgal if he too felt things were rushed, he hesitates but clears the air in a very Dhruv-fashion with the most ease. "You know in previous seasons, even the idea of engagement or conversation around marriage scared them. And now, they are almost ready to take the plunge, even talk about having kids or not. Hence it was a way to show that now they have matured within themselves, and in this relationship. The engagement is probably a promise to spend their lives together no matter what."

While there is plenty of rambling and repetition in the fourth season, the quiet maturity and melancholy embodied by Kavya and Dhruv's restless but well-meaning determination pave the way for their greatest strength — they like to and want to make things work. This is what gets them going. We don't and maybe would never know if the characters would take a Marriage Story turn or not, but they will always have little things to remember, and definitely a will to solve those greater conflicts over a plate of momos.

The next for Sehgal is a show along the lines of food, something that transpires in most of his writings. It is a new series for one of the OTT platforms, and he is also returning to direct a new show. "All I can say is I am constantly trying to write, read, and be a better writer. And sometimes things just work out," he concludes.

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