The order of the day is to have a renewed season for every successful series and Thinkistan being among the rare digital content to offer an insight into the world of Indian advertising industry certainly commanded one. Kiska Hoga Thinkistan Season 2, more or less, is an extension of its ideas from its first outing in the digital space. It tries to be gripping and entertaining at the same time - a balance it doesn't always fulfil to perfection. The series, as much as it's about advertising, devotes its focus to bloated egos, bruised friendships, meaningless relationships at the workplace and the obvious clash between the professional and personal worlds of its characters. The series starts as a warm, happy-go-lucky tale of camaraderie between two colleagues Hema and Amit Shrivastava – their exchange of ideas, concerns, the differences between growing up in a city and a small-town and how they complete each other in many ways. In the larger scheme of things, Kiska Hoga Thinkistan Season 2 is about handling change-in-leadership in testing times and the importance of a key figure in a workplace to nudge people and their abilities forward. William takes over from Anushka as a creative director of the advertising firm MTMC and the world of the employees turns tipsy-topsy overnight. Friendships are broken, creative ideas are stolen, favouritism is prevalent – this affects an employee's personal life as much as his/her professional environment. Those viewers who haven't had a glimpse of the earlier season would be able to relate with this universe too. Though the advertising world feels new as a backdrop for an Indian series, the conflicts are still universal. The series realises that the change of top guard at a workplace may not always be a breath of fresh air for the employees. It's hinged on many possibilities – the willingness of a boss to understand a newer company's belief system, his/her acceptance of a subordinate's ideas and the handling of creative differences with utmost tact. Though portraying a newer boss as a villain may seem more cinematic than real – it brings some juiciness to the otherwise slice-of-life proceedings. Another key factor that drives the series forward is its focus on workplace sexual harassment. This isn't a mere last-minute addition for the sake of inclusivity but a very important plot-point that changes the course of the story. The series informs how the LGBTQI community can be the butt of all ridicule in issues involving sexual harassment, thanks to archaic laws. A compelling subplot about the growing distance between Hema and his wife Priya, the latter's work trip to London keeps us invested in the action. Because Kiska Hoga Thinkistan Season 2 tries to do so many things involving so many characters, we may be pardoned if things go above our heads. Shravan Reddy as Hema continues to be the find of the series – his assured screen-presence and marked transformation between various phases of his character are a delight to watch. Naveen Kasturia plays on with the common-man vibe of his look well but his performance isn't as memorable. It's impressive how the director uses bigger-league actors like Mandira Bedi, Kabir Bedi at clinical situations in the series. Jayashree Venkataraman and Shraddha Musale bide their screen time with some purpose. Neil Bhoopalam, supposedly the badass-boss of this season, brings a sense of style to his histrionics that weaves in some mystery to his character. Meanwhile, a neat foundation is laid for another season as well and there's an interesting segment talking of Airtel's inception in the late 1990s in this series too. The 1990s backdrop is one of the guilty-pleasures of the series. It feels like a throwback to simpler times where people had time for friendships, relationships, handled stress without talking 'work-life balance'. Filmmaker N Padmakumar's ad stint proves handy for this digital assignment. While he creates an assortment of complex characters, his efforts could have been directed more at their personal graph. As of now, it feels like quantity scoring over quality. Thinkistan Season 2 feels like a middle ground in many ways – intriguing but not always captivating, nuanced at times but also being simplistic beyond necessity.
Rating: 2.5/5 (Watch the series on MX Player here)