To water: I hate the same, Ankur Rathee, Rahul Bose, Jim Sarbh, Suchitra Pillai
Director: Raul Nair
Rating: Two and a half stars (out of 5)
The 24-year-old boy from Mumbai, wobbly as a tadpole, is desperate to get laid. What’s the big deal? The great thing is that while the boy dutifully does the bidding of his raging hormones, his wayward heart and both lead him astray when push comes to shove.
Like most lecherous boys his age, Ray, the main character whose state of mind the title of this new Netflix series describes, routinely exaggerates his enthusiasm and gets tangled up. Forever confused and eager for loveWritten and directed by Rahul Nair, is a fluffy, wacky study of a young man’s misadventures in search of a steady date.
The eight-episode series revolves around the scruffy son of a marketing executive (Rahul Bose) at a diaper company. Learn to catch your own shit before it triggers a stink, his old man advises the boy after he gets into trouble on a blind date and needs words of encouragement.
Ray trusts neither him nor his mother (Suchitra Pillai). They play a marginal role in his life at best. All his trust is blind and reserved entirely for the figure of a wizard dangling from a bunch of keys – a personification of the boy’s open, talkative conscience. The imaginary familiar talks non-stop, constantly reminding the boy that he’s embarrassed.
Ray’s incessant, rat-a-rat, scathing banter with his “inner voice,” for better or for worse, takes up most of the narrative. The relentless verbal duel is fine, but sometimes too breathless to have its full effect.
Girls float in and out of Ray’s orbit as his attention and intent fluctuate. With his clumsy nature, Ray can never contain a slip.
Wiz, the wise wizard, accuses him of self-sabotage and self-loathing.
Numerous actresses – Namrata Sheth, Devika Vatsa, Tanya Katyal, Niharika Lyra Dutt and Ayana Gaziz as the daughter of the owner of the Japanese investment firm Ray works for – flit in and out of the show as a helpless heroine, egged on by his guide She learns up the hard way that finding a girlfriend isn’t easy.
The “Voice” knows best, but no matter what it advises, the young man manages to dig a hole every time he goes looking for a girlfriend. Sometimes his parents set him up with a family friend’s daughter, sometimes a dating site leads him to a match, and still others Wiz helps him, but with no real success.
At least one of the many encounters that backfire borders on youthfulness. Ray wishes he got sick so he doesn’t have to attend a party at the house of a girl his parents want him to meet. Instead, the girl’s father suffers a heart attack and the party is canceled. Ray blames himself for the unexpected turn of events. Wiz also thinks an apology from the boy is appropriate.
The breathless Wiz will either hold the protagonist’s hand, give them a shove, or throw them in at the deep end, depending on what the situation calls for. He spits out a slew of ideas for Ray to gush and put into practice, but trouble never stops chasing the guy.
A trusted schoolmate in Riya (Dalai) and an officemate in Varun (Ankur Rathee), a few years older than Ray, are also available to Ray with free advice. Both Dalai and Ankur Rathee are effective in their roles as friends whose patience is often tested by Ray’s flirting with the disaster.
The toy giving relationship advice to Ray is voiced by Jim Sarbh. Although not physically present, Sarbh is the star of the show, a strong sonic and conceptual presence that dominates the series. There are times when you almost expect the voice to take on body and pop out of the screen.
The producers of Forever confused and eager for love – Excel Entertainment’s Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar, and Tiger Baby’s Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti – are also named as creative directors.
It’s impossible to know offhand whether the involvement of so many creative forces is responsible for the show playing out like a series of interconnected skits set in restaurants, house parties, Ray’s workspace, the dinner table, and even the living room in a hospital cafeteria. The mix of encounters teaches the unsuspecting protagonist about the opposite sex and the world in general.
Wiz never tires of breaking bad news for Ray. The clumsy boy turns around and asks: Why are you so negative? “I’m not negative, I’m realistic,” replies the toy confidante. Reality keeps hitting Ray, but they keep going anyway.
While the series occasionally feels like a coming-of-age real-life story, it often throws itself into high-flying flights, some of which make the landing smooth enough to pass the pattern. The ones that do no lasting damage.
Forever confused and eager for love is sort of a tale of glitches and misfires. After a date goes horribly wrong for Ray, the unstoppable Wiz speaks out: “This is your version of a horror story.” Indeed, Ray staggers from one situation to the next in the loving hope of a life-changing miracle. That’s his lot.
Miracles elude the show. It remains confined to a strongly bounded graph. Forever confused and eager for love It’s obviously aimed at a Gen Z audience, who will likely find plenty of reference points.
I hate that Ray is given a likable, believable quality despite all the horrific falls he – and the show – suffers along the way. It might be flimsy, but it’s mostly fun because Jim Sarbh doesn’t even need to be on screen to exude infectious energy. His disembodied voice gets the job done.