TVF and The Timeliners are back with the highly-awaited Season 2 of Flames, the delightful teenage love story that had ingratiated its way into the collective consciousness of online audiences with its old-world charm and old-fashioned quaintness.
Season 2 of the show has just landed on the OTT space, and all five episodes are currently streaming on the OTT platform MX Player, as well as on the content creator’s in-house digital app, TVF Play. And no, it is not streaming on YouTube this time around, so don’t go looking for it there, folks.
And listen up, all ye fans of this particular web series – we’re mighty glad to inform you that Season 2 of Flames is as adorably sweet, soppy and syrupy as Season 1 was; which is what its USP was in the first place, and it still is.
Although the series is set in today’s times, it is a nod to the tender, intensely-appealing kind of love of the eighties and nineties. Even the title of the show– Flames– is a throwback to FLAMES, the enchanting game of love, played by eighties’ kids.
Flames Season 2 picks up from where Season 1 left off – Rajat (Ritwik Sahore) and Ishita (Tanya Maniktala), two dreamy-eyed teenagers who meet at an IIT entrance coaching class, are inexorably drawn towards each other in the first season. In Season 2, they take the logical next step and start dating.
But dating, in this gossamer-soft love story, has starkly different connotations than your commonplace web series of present times. Dating here does not mean heavy making-out sessions, lusting after bodily pleasures and, errr….hooking up with each other.
No sire, dating in Flames is of a different ilk altogether. It is bingeing on steaming hot momos in the cold Delhi climate at an oft-frequented street food stall. It is playing an inane game about guessing the names of Delhi Metro stations from amusingly childish clues. It is jumping over walls to spend time in the precincts of an old fort, and eventually, sharing heart-to-heart talks in those blissfully quiet and isolated premises.
In fact, the only physical intimacy this delightful couple shares is a shyly hesitant holding of hands, and a hastily caught kiss on the stairs of Ishita’s building. Falling in love in Flames isn’t about canoodling and making out. It’s about that all-encompassing feeling that sweeps us off our feet as we watch the story unfold on screen. It is hardly any wonder then, that we had a goofy smile plastered on our face the entire while that we watched Flames.
And to drive home the point, we beg allowance to repeat what we had written in our review of Flames Season 1. We quote – Flames Seaason 2 takes us back into a time when the first stirrings of love between a guy and a girl used to be a delightful, saccharine-sweet experience; when the pursuit of love was charmingly coquettish and adorably hesitant– quite unlike the testosterone-fuelled, aggressive pursuing of today. In today’s online cuss-words-and-copulating-couples scenario, this web series is an enchanting aberration.
But even as the young couple falls harder for each other, reality creeps into the narrative, making things difficult for the kids in love. In Season 2, the soft shimmery tones of teenage love tango with the harsh shadows of reality. Strict parents, petty misunderstandings, enforced separations, studies stress, and even depression, all march into the mix to wreak havoc in their nascent relationship.
Rajat, lovingly called Rajjo by Ishita and his best friends, Pandey (Shivam Kakar) and his girl Anusha (Sunakshi Grover), doesn’t want to pursue science, a fact he is scared to tell his authoritarian and conservative parents. The series touches upon the oft-repeated trope of parental pressure – pushy parents compelling their unwilling kid to go through gruelling preparations to make it to the Holy Grail of education – the IITs. Incidentally, Ritwik Sahore had starred as lead in another web series that played out the exact same scenario – the seminal Biswa Kalyan Rath creation, Lakhon Mein Ek.
Flames Season 2 lays definitive emphasis on the role of supportive parents in the life of their children. It espouses the significance of sharing an unshakeable and indelible bond of acceptance and understanding that parents must make an effort to inculcate with their kids, especially adolescents lurking on the threshold of adulthood. And it does so in the most natural way possible – with the help of the narrative, constructed around two diverse sets of parents – Ishita’s adorable, supportive, teddy-bearish dad (Raj Sharma), and Rajjo’s strict, authoritarian ones (Neelu Dogra and Purnendu Bhattacharya).
To come back to the story, unbeknownst to Rajjo, life has more stumbling blocks in store for him. Woe betides him when Rajjo’s mother discovers his budding relationship with Ishita. She condemns him in the harshest possible words, takes away his phone and forbids him from stepping out of the house; which effectively puts paid to the charming little love story.
Do the two manage to surmount this setback and get back together? We’ll leave that for you to find out.
Flames Season 2 explores the deeper meaning of love through the blow-hot-blow-cold relationship of Pandey and Anusha. Trust, understanding, acceptance, and finally, confidence, that your partner will stick it out with you till the very end – all these themes are addressed in a delicately subtle and non-intrusive manner through their fiery relationship.
The series even skims the surface of another complex topic – the excessively money-spinning nature of present-day coaching classes – through the rent travails of the adorable chemistry teacher and owner of Sunshine Coaching Classes, Kaushal Sir (Deepesh Sumitra Jagdish). It leaves viewers with the profound proposition that the dissemination of education is nobler than any monetary benefits it accrues. Preachy, it may be; but poignant, nevertheless.
Another thing we like, nay love, about Flames Season 2, is its frank take on the scourge of depression among today’s youngsters. The series addresses the subject in a supremely refined, non-judgmental way, and ends with the sufferer being shown taking therapy for the same, with the happy, whole-hearted acceptance of the parent. A step in the right direction, if we may.
The story has been written with a lot of thoughtful care by writer Kunal Aneja, and it shows. Likewise is Apoorv Singh Karki’s direction. The series is caringly conceived and sensitively shot. It is nuanced and laced with tiny complexities, which have to be felt to be truly appreciated.
The young foursome of actors has done a marvellous job of conveying the idiosyncrasies of adolescence, and all four deserve a round of applause. We cannot single out any one of them for special mention, even if we try. All four are equally good in their characterisation. Deepesh Sumitra Jagdish puts in another great performance as the quirky chemistry teacher, picking up from where he left off last season. He is also the ‘sutradhar’ of the series, spouting complex chemistry terms to take the narrative forward.
To sum it up succinctly, Flames is a delightful story of teenage love, which indisputably deserves must-watch status.
In the meanwhile, 3/5 is our rating for Flames Season 2.