The boon and the curse of watching a mini-web series is its length (under 45 minutes) - just as the characters and the situations grow on you, the narrative draws towards a closure. The better part of the mini-web series? A gamut of emotions and responses of its characters are left unexplained or left for you to interpret. So, it's neither an ad film nor a short film, neither a regular feature nor a web-series. The challenge is to find a middle-ground between all such forms for the storyteller to create something as impactful. Dice Media's Fairy Lights comes close in being that but just falls short.
The series revolves around three characters who're best buddies – Rohan, Umang and Shreekamal, fresh out of college and committed to securing admission in their desired university in a subject of their choice. Rohan is the most selfless friend among the trio, doing anything and everything to liven up the world of his childhood friend(s). From offering worldly gyaan to handling rejection to relationship advice, he's the go-to man for Umang. Shreekamal may not be a character as evolved as Umang and Rohan, but he's the typical nerd and an unquestionable loyalist of the group. The premise deals with the 18th birthday of Umang and the best efforts put forward by Rohan and Shreekamal to ensure a near-perfect party with their college pals.
The plot may sound basic but it's ideal, relevant and evergreen for the format – catering to the teenagers of today, offering scope to personalise the narrative and providing the right dose of nostalgia. Youngsters coming to terms with rejection is the very essence of Fairy Lights. Watch out for the sequence where Rohan and Umang discuss not making it to the elite journalism university in the city. And one where Umang has the hots for Rohan and hopes to turn their friendship into something more and the latter doesn't reciprocate. The girl doesn't know what she wants but realises the need to be in the good books of her mom. Fairy Lights deals with issues pertinent to every teenager – love, career, friendship and parental clashes.
The camaraderie between the friends shows and their conversations are lifelike and free-flowing. Actor Rohan Shah has been a regular in similar digital content that resonates with millennials and quite obviously, he fits into this space with ease. Umang Jain has the most complicated character and she shows the desired depth to essay the part of an emotionally messed-up teenager. Viraj Ghelani has only little to do as Shreekamal. The (four) episodes begin and end with too many heavy-handed dialogues that try too hard to provide a philosophical bent to the proceedings. In contrast, the silences in the series are handled well. The tension between Umang and Rohan as the series surges ahead is built with tact. The ending, however, is bizarre.
It showcases the inability of the series writers to deal with a conflict in a supposed-triangular love story. What do the writers do when they don't know to deal with a character? Kill it. It may have been a convenient option for them to do so, but for someone who invests so much in the unexplained emotions of its protagonists, that's the last narrative turn you'd expect. The director Gaurav Dashputra is successful in creating well-defined characters, lending a light-hearted vein to the series, something that the writing doesn't quite capitalise on. Just as a comment on Youtube read, 'The best thing about the finale is the announcement of another season for 'Adulting' (also a popular mini-series)'.