What is the story about?
As a new batch of engineering students are allotted hostel rooms, the warden is reminded of the significance of Room No 54 and the many students who had stayed in the room over the years. In particular, the warden keeps harking back to the 2002 batch where a group of four students, Yuvaraj, Prasanna, Venkat Rao and another one nicknamed Babai had stayed in the same room. From dealing with academic pressures to financial crunches to heartbreaks, celebrating festivals together and wiling away their time with nonsensical discussions, they stick together through their thick and thin over the four years.
The medium through which we consume content goes a long way in deciding how we respond to it. Don’t believe me? Room No. 54, the latest 10-episode Telugu web series released on ZEE5, would’ve been a smash hit had they released it on YouTube as a bunch of comedy snippets. The series covers a gamut of topics that fall under a minimum guarantee zone to work on YouTube – last-minute exam preparations, the desperation to fall in love during student years, the loose talk around women, the quintessential bachelor trip, the drunken talk with roommates and a liberal dose of sexual references.
However, when you watch content on an OTT platform that you pay for, you expect some aesthetics and a minimum level of sophistication in the content or the making. That’s where Room No. 54 falls short. The series is shot quite casually, with every episode lasting a little more than 15 minutes. These episodes are nothing but a series of random conversations about everything under the sun. Spare the crass talk aside, the lightness of the theme makes it an easy watch. It doesn’t take itself seriously and pokes fun at everything – the vagueness in the plot may be irritating but Room No. 54 doesn’t aim big.
The characters in the show are a manifestation of regular cinematic tropes – one of them speaks high-brow English, strives to become a filmmaker, another one finds silly excuses to not study for his exams, others try hard to woo girls in their college. The only aim of the show is to be relatable to its target audience, but does that viewer base necessarily come to OTT platforms to watch such content? One may not be sure. For those who watch Room No. 54 expecting quality humour or a concrete plot, be prepared to be disappointed.
One of the more interesting aspects of Room No. 54 is how in every episode, an alumnus revisits his memories in the college and the room. Bringing known names in the industry to play cameos for these roles complements this idea – Priydarshi, Chitram Seenu, Tanikella Bharani, Uttej, Satyadev, Gemini Suresh, Hemanth among many add a good comic touch to the proceedings. If asked to pick the best of these episodes, it’s the one featuring Uttej in smashing form.
The show ends abruptly and if only the makers had put in more effort with the writing, Room No. 54 could’ve been an inoffensive watch. To sum this up in a nutshell, this show is about four aimless guys boozing and smoking away their college years with small talk.
It’s high time filmmakers cast faces that actually look like college-going students for projects set in a college backdrop. The lead actors, Krishna Prasad, Pawon Ramesh, Moin and Krishna Teja, despite their impressive comic timing, look like a bunch that is many years beyond their engineering education. Moin and Krishna Teja are still the best of the lot, speak their lines well, improvise smartly with the situation and are a natural in front of the camera. The special appearance of well-known faces in every episode is a well-thought-out idea. RJ, dubbing artiste PVS Swetha’s acting debut works well and Navya Rao doesn’t disappoint either.
Music & Other Departments
RR Dhruvan’s music score is catchy at places and is passable on the whole. Pranav-Shashank crank the camera for the show. Though the cinematography is hardly of the standard one should aim for in a web series, one couldn’t have done any better within the limitations of the setting. On a structural level, Room No. 54 is hardly coherent with several links in the story left in the lurch. The dialogues are amateurish though the lines for Krishna Teja’s character (Babai) bring about a few smiles. Filmmaker D S Goutham does an insipid job with a mediocre plot. The logical loopholes aside, there is no effort to tell any story. The laughs are infrequent and the narrative flow is as aimless as the four pivotal characters.
- Moin, Krishna Teja’s performances
- The idea of an alumnus revisiting his room across every episode
- A few occasional laughs
- No storyline
- Juvenile, crass humour and amateurish execution
- Inept casting, little authenticity to the backdrop
Did I enjoy it?
Do I recommend it?