Rahul Nair’s eight-episode coming-of-age series Eternally Confused and Eager for Love is a charming affair, despite its premise which could have led to a bland watch. Just how interesting and watchable could yet another production about a 20-something’s search for love be was my initial thought on seeing the trailer and reading the mouthful of a title. (Also read: Deep Water review: Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas shine in Adrian Lyne’s thriller)
What makes the Netflix series immensely binge-worthy is Vihaan Samat’s lead performance as Ray, a 25-year-old young man appallingly and strangely unsuccessful with women despite his affable, awkward charm. But the star of the show is Jim Sarbh. His wacky voice work for Ray’s imaginary wizard friend provides constant commentary for the hero’s several failed attempts at finding love. Sarbh’s voice modulation is just a delight, and it’s clearly the most memorable element in an altogether fine series.
Samat’s casting as Ray is a bit questionable since he is quite good-looking and the character is a polite and well-groomed man with a steady job he’s good at. That Ray is such a fool in the dating scene, and is sexually inexperienced, is hard to buy, but Samat makes the character work to the best of his abilities. Ray’s parents are played by Rahul Bose and Suchitra Pillai, who share a warm and comfortable bond. They are frequently seen bickering in a good-natured way, which the immature Ray mistakes for fighting, just another example of how much he needs to learn about human relationships.
Ray’s parents are quite worried about his romantic and sexual prospects. So hopeless is Ray in this department that his parents as well as friends are constantly fixing dates for him. What exactly makes Ray underconfident is not addressed in the series. Just one unexpected kiss at a dance club, which also happens to be his first, makes Ray’s confidence grow tenfold. It’s weird that Ray took 25 years to land his first kiss – and that it was just this moment that suddenly switched on his mojo.
Ray’s chemistry with his best friend Riya (Dalai) is the sort of thing that will make everyone around them expect the two to eventually date each other. The series frequently pushes them towards that direction. Ray is also guided by his alpha colleague, played by Ankur Rathee, and the two share some funny repartee. Among Riya’s friends who are amused by Ray’s air of weirdness is Komal (Devika Vatsa), who is extremely belligerent towards the poor chap throughout the series. Eventually who Ray lands up with is predictable right from the start, and I was particularly elated when the pair did get together by the end of the series.
Because of its light-hearted and easygoing nature, Eternally Confused and Eager for Love is quite a welcome breather in the current OTT space, which is inundated with thrillers and mysteries. Almost all the actors in the series deliver the goods. The show never threatens to become maudlin or pretend to impart life lessons. It’s a cheerful, mildly messy ride, which could be mistaken for vacuous, but I found it highly entertaining, despite my reservations in the beginning.
Also, this is perhaps the second Indian web series I have seen that is so easy to watch and like despite largely being in the English language. Eternally Confused and Eager for Love comes from Zoya Akhtar’s Tiger Baby Films. Zoya has always had a great handle on the ways of affluent people, best seen in their brilliant series Made in Heaven. In tense times, it’s quite a relief to find a series that’s just so charmingly inoffensive and stress-free. I’d be looking forward to season two.
Eternally Confused and Eager for Love
Director: Rahul Nair
Cast: Vihaan Samat, Rahul Bose, Suchitra Pillai, Jim Sarbh