Today’s entertainment industry has a rising trend of leveraging the internet as a platform. The primary aim has been for wider reach of the content and easy feedback from its consumers. This has paved the way to the current wave of TV series, web series, limited series and many more. Being significant in almost any global statistics, Indians are yet to be the ones with impressive contribution to this. However, The Viral Fever (TVF) is showing us how to play the game right! For the unfamiliar ones, TVF has become synonymous with Indian digital entertainment by giving us quality and succinct content. As it is one of my personal favorites, I’m very excited to introduce to you their latest creation. Cheesecake by TVF is a delicious series for a perfect binge night.
Director: Palash Vaswani
Number of episodes: 5
Genre: feel-good, modern drama
Personal rating: 4/5
Want to watch it?
TVF fandom sweethearts Akanksha Thakur and Jitendra Kumar are back with their trademark on-screen charm which is a delight to watch. However, the star of the series is not the couple but a lively canine. The titular role of a gorgeously candid golden retriever rightly steals the show by giving #doglover feels to every one of us. This trio is accompanied by a fine sidekick performance by Kumar Varun. Add the cameos from veterans Mahesh Manjrekar and Ashwini Kalsekar into the mix and you get this breezy yet insightful series.
On a personal note
I’m not writing this post as a scene-by-scene breakdown of the series. However, I feel that it isn’t enough to just give you a broad yet vague review. I am particularly curious about exploring the themes and circumstances presented in every series I watch. I believe such an exercise of relating and introspecting gives way to personal growth. This also helps us better appreciate and respect the creative process behind it. Therefore, I present a few observations and revelations which made watching Cheesecake a joyous rollercoaster.
Although I shall try my best to generalize the below content, I think that #SpoilerAlert is in order. (Don’t want to be accused of being a spoilsport!) However, if you’re looking for a fun article on entertainment, I assure you it’s a fine read.
Let’s decode the series!
The story is set in our very own Mumbai (will always be the good-old “Bombay” to me though!) with its quintessential hustle and bustle. We have our average Joe and Jane, Neel (Jeetu) and Sameera (Akanksha), living the typical married urban youth lifestyle. Sameera should relate to every other software/IT employee having their work-life balance screwed up. Neel is likewise a busy bee striving to follow his passion with his buddy Shikhar (Kumar). Add post-marital life in this scenario and we have the perfectly expected rocky start. The exhausted couple, lack of willingness to communicate, stale personal life and a patronizing employer show us the stuck-up lives of the two.
The prologue is relatable to Indian urban youth and newly-weds to almost an emphatic degree. I see that as a good job on the creative end by hooking our interest in the protagonists’ mundane lives. The only thing needed now is a miracle and voila!
A vivacious dog, a golden retriever, enters their house (and their lives) without knocking. The couple think it to be an uninvited guest and unwanted responsibility. Little do they know how this “animal” would make them better “humans”!
Love to be loved!
The main theme of the series is one of loving and caring for canines (animals in general). The series presents the very humanly instinct of Sameera’s to resist abandoning the dog. Naming it after her favorite dessert Cheesecake, we can expect the dog’s role will be important for filling her emotional void. On the other hand, Neel proposing the “rational” choice of deserting the furry guest shows the human inertia to change. Unable to be totally inhuman, Neel has to free up his emotional (as well as physical) space to make way for Cheesecake. I am glad that the script handles the above notions well and provides room for healthy discussion.
Although one may think that caring is enough, the show presents a more overarching message of appreciating dogs and treating them with decency and respect. They are not our slaves and/or showpieces but warm beings with a profound potential to better your lives. They are also highly social creatures and much easily prone to emotional disturbances. We, humans in general, may call ourselves “civilized” and “progressive” in our effort to improve from our past. But the emotional interactions with our animal kingdom friends are not be lost to our human-centrist rationality. We must have the right emotional maturity to relish their presence.
The series emphasizes how much dogs mimic their environment (and most of the pet lovers agree). In fact, it is said that they mirror the emotional vibe of their surrounding people. So, having cheerful and lively people around also elates them. They seek solace in our comfort and I believe they’re termed as “Human’s best friend” for this precise reason. The series establishes them as “unconditionally loving babies” and rightly so. They are loving, for sure, but also baby-like in terms of responsibility. The plot develops around this central theme and argues that the “fruit is worth the labour”.
I very much like how the show presents the notion of a shared responsibility (a dog in this case) on a chaotic couple can potentially bring them serenity. Despite being so paradoxical at first glance, it proves to be a force that rejuvenates their life. It also gives them a greater chance at communication and strengthens their waning bond of friendship. The series conveys this evidently when Cheesecake renews the couple’s interest to spend quality time together. This general observation may be showcased using the cliched “unplanned pregnancy” or “child adoption” plots as well. But I really enjoyed that the show presented this same moral via a new story-line.
The overall message I take from watching this refreshing short series is to welcome happy accidents. Just when your rock-bottom of a banal life seems to strike out, accidents happen as nature’s way of testing your readiness. And if you’re ready, maybe it’ll be the next miracle of your life!