An engaging take on a persistent set of issues- Cinema express

Remember the one dialogue that our parents had for every problem plaguing our lives? ‘This is what happens when you are always on your phone.’ Although it was infuriating to receive this response to certain problems, one cannot argue that they were right at times. In many ways, director Shivakar Srinivasan’s Fingertip Season 2 is the web series equivalent of that ominous warning. It tells us how most of our problems can be solved by more careful usage of that palm-sized electronic device in our hands.

While this is an altogether fresh season, there are not many differences from the first. In fact, it is both a standalone season and a sequel. The first season was treated as a proper anthology with five different stories dealing with five specific internet applications that have the potential to wreak havoc in our lives. In the second season, we once again have five stories, but it is treated as a series. Narratives run parallel this time around, and seamlessly coalesce at multiple points throughout the season.

Cast: Prasanna, Regina Cassandra, Aparna Balamurali, Vinoth Kishan, Kanna Ravi, Sharath Ravi

Director: Shivakar Srinivasan

Streaming on: Zee5

Fingertip Season 2 is about how the individual stories of a psychiatrist (Aparna Balamurali), a food delivery executive (Vinoth Kishan), a cop (Prasanna), an actress (Regina Cassandra), a high-performing troll (Kanna Ravi), and a perfume shop The owner (Sharath Ravi) unfolds in dramatic fashion, and in the process, preaches to the audience the vagaries of the digital world. However, it doesn’t take the easy way out of putting all the blame on the technology but keeps it squarely on the humans behind the tech. But then, one can’t help but ask about the intent of a series like Fingertip. Is it to tell a story, however scary it is, or is it to make us feel a morbid fear in even reaching out to our phones. However, it is understandable that the makers chose to use this style of narrative because the issue is pertinent and immensely threatening.

Various issues like hacking, trolling, cyber-bullying, deepfakes, non-consensual video recordings of sex, etc… are dealt with in Fingertip season 2. It is smart that the writers chose to mount this season as a series because this allows a lot of these issues to be organically molded into the narrative with a lot of finesse. Barring the storyline of Regina Cassandra, every other story has a direct connection with each other. The starry world fronted by Regina deals with body image issues, and whether she makes peace with them… Such issues are largely brushed away under the carpet as ‘rich people’ problems, but the writing in these portions doesn’t really sell the concept hard enough. This distance from the other stories makes it a bit harder to relate with, and the only ‘takeaway’ comes across more like a sermon and less as a shared experience.

There are no such problems when it comes to the other arcs because most of us can see ourselves either being part of the problem or even the victim. Such content thrives on making the audience be part of the narrative, and the writing mostly works but misses a trick or two and keeps us at an arm’s length at times. Nevertheless, Shivakar puts forward some strong points when it comes to dealing with the horrors of the internet. I particularly liked how the leaked sex videos scandal is handled by the women. When a distraught dad wants to pay off the blackmailer who has a video of his daughter, it is the mother who stands her ground and says, “Let him leak the video. If we stand by our daughter, what does she have to fear? Who can do anything to her? ” This is something that resonated across the stories. It is the women who take the all-important step to reclaim their individual choices.

By playing what is easily the series’ most unique character, Regina once again proves that she is a powerhouse performer who definitely needs to get the roles she deserves. The same can be said for Vinoth Kishan and Kanna Ravi too. They play two sides of the same coin, and it is interesting how the contrast in their character arcs is brought to the fore. One trolls for a profession and the other does it out of a night’s error in judgment, and it is the latter who goes through tumultuous times to get rid of the guilt. It is an interesting parallel to see how the one who is remorseful suffers bigger consequences. Prasanna has a strong emotional arc, which is not often seen in cop roles, and he delivers a convincing performance. Another interesting character sketch is that of Aparna, and I particularly liked how Shivakar and Roju have used most of these roles to make the audience question their own prejudices.

Another impressive aspect of Fingertip Season 2 is how it advocates the need for non-bottling up feelings and finding an outlet to ask for help. The outlet could be friends, families, or trained professionals, and this is a solid move forward when it comes to representation of the after-effects of relentless digital damage. In fact, Fingertip is a series that can afford to be preachy, and it is heartening that the writers know when to go all in, and when to rein it in. Basically, Fingertip season 2 is the web series equivalent of one other oft-repeated statement on social media – it is important that we are smarter than our smartphones. But are we? Well… let’s not give unnecessary permissions to one more app to know that.

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