Web Series Title: Never Have I Ever
Creators: Lang Fisher, Mindy Kaling
Direction: Tristram Shapeero, Kabir Akhtar, Linda Mendoza, Anu Valia
Cast: Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Darren Barnet, Ramona Young, John McEnroe, Poorna Jagannathan
Music: Joseph Stephens
Cinematographer: Rhet Bear
Editor: Jonathan Pledger
What is it about: It’s a teen comedy web series which follows the story of Indian teenager coming of age in the backdrop of America. The series is created by Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher.
Mindy Kailing is stupendously famous for her “Mindy Project” and multiple other films in Hollywood. And this web series is inspired by her own life and challenges she faced during teenage years. American teen comedies are endless and we see them every once in a while. Most of them are similar in their approach but a handful stand out. If you may ask, this series is a full bag of clichés. It has everything which is predesigned for a teen comedy. It religiously follows the often followed approach.
These are too stereotypic rendition of Indians which I’m sure is not the case with everyone.
But one thing which troubles me is the way Indians are portrayed in American films or series. Only a handful does justice to it but mostly it’s exaggerated more than our Bollywood films. The impression the filmmakers abroad create sometimes is annoying. For instance there’s an episode which features the gathering of Indian community for Ganesh Puja. Agreed people are similar to that but sometimes it’s exaggerated to attract cheap laughs. In spite of being a good production house I see there was no effort in picking out good costumes for the actors during that sequence in the episode. They looked so bad and that showed the negligence of the makers. And the classic assumption which Americans make if they see a coloured skin they assume it’s a muslim and greet “Happy Ramadan” even when the girl standing in the queue is wearing a bindi and a saree. And to add swag they make a pandit churn out “Go Lakers”. These are too stereotypic rendition of Indians which I’m sure is not the case with everyone. Because the lead Character Devi Vishwakumar (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) seems more American than the Americans themselves. This rant is not because I’m offended. Which I’m not. It’s because how the subject is taken for granted and it’s repeated on and on in most of the films and series.
That being said, the performances by the central cast were good. To begin with Maitreyi Ramakirshnan as Devi was stupendous and she truly did a great job and the best aspect of “Never have I Ever”. Following her would be Poorna Jagannathan as Nalini Vishwakumar, Devi’s mother. She did a commendable job. The rest of the supporting characters were average and they seemed a little too orchestrated compared to the central cast. But yes Richa Moorjani as Kamala did a good job.
The series had multiple directors Tristram Shapeero, Linda Mendoza, Kabir Akhtar, and Anu Valia. The first 5 episodes kept wandering and you find it hard to connect with the characters. But they slowly warm post mid season and reach out to the audience.
The cinematography by Rhet Bear was good so was the editing by Jonathan Pledger.
Verdict: Mindy Kailing and Lang Fisher surely did create a good ensemble of characters but didn’t develop them well to keep the audience invested. They had all the requisite ingredients with a solid checklist but failed to indulge them. If you’re in a mood to catch something light-hearted and want to take a break from thrillers, time-travel and documentaries on Netflix? Then “Never Have I Ever” is a perfect getaway. It’s currently streaming on Netflix.
Watch the Trailer Here: