Telugu web series ‘Loser 2’ dives deep into sportsmen’s struggles and benefits from its capable cast
Most sports dramas that tell the story of an underdog stop at the winning moment. What happens next? Season 2 of the Telugu web series Loser, broadcast on Zee5, begins shortly after air rifle shooter Suri Yadav (Priyadarshi Pulikonda) wins the national championship. It shows us if Suri’s life changes for the better and if he can keep his success. The other former players, Ruby (Kalpika Ganesh) and Wilson (Shashank), whom he has crossed paths with before, have their past demons to defeat and find a new purpose in life. Suri eventually has to rediscover his purpose as well.
This eight-episode season doesn’t have much sports action. When a sport is played, it comes at crucial moments and is effective in driving the drama. Loser 2 is more of an emotional drama. Director Abhilash Reddy takes his time building momentum and exploring different aspects of the story that he has co-written with Sai Bharadwaj and Shravan Madala.
Loser 2 Web Series Review, Cast, Streaming, Directed
- Cast: Priyadarshi, Kalpika, Harshith, Shashank
- Directed by: Abhilash Reddy
- Broadcast on: Zee5
The nonlinear pattern continues this season, with stories shifting between the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s to delve deeper into what shapes the main characters.
The first few episodes detail the crushing reality facing Suri and several former champions. An air rifle shooter doesn’t get an enthusiastic welcome in his hometown. He walks up to a newspaper office, introduces himself and narrates his journey, only to see it published as a snippet three days later. The national victory grants him an administrative job; again, no one congratulates or welcomes him.
The scene in which a colleague points out how many former champions the office has employed and how they have all resigned themselves to the obscurity of pushing files is a revealing reality of the fate of athletes in the absence of financial support to advance their sports careers. As Suri learns about his colleagues, Naresh Ramadurai’s camera pans up to give us an overview of the situation and how they all end up lost in a crowd.
The first few episodes are deliberately paced, but hold their own as they coalesce into heartwarming drama as it progresses. While Suri, despite all her patience and intention to work towards greater sporting glory, becomes disgusted with his entourage and starts looking for money and thus power, Ruby has enough challenges on her plate.
Adding complexity, this season introduces Maya (Dhanya Balakrishna) who knows what it takes for her to survive in the world of advertising. She’s good at portraying the character who is part street smart and part opportunist, but often deliberately unreadable.
Meanwhile, Ruby’s journey is as much about overcoming suffocating patriarchy as it is about sports. Years after the threat of sexual abuse ended her badminton dreams, she faces marital rape. She forces herself to take a step that might be frowned upon by her conservative Muslim parents. When a change of direction occurs, clear truths are revealed through lines such as: “If you had delayed a few seconds after asking ‘how am I,’ I would have opened up and cried; If you had looked me in the eyes for a few more seconds while you served me my food, I would have collapsed…
Priyadarshi and Kalpika Ganesh play Suri and Ruby respectively with skill and a lot of empathy. In a scene where a character asks Suri, “Do you look like a champion?”, she makes him realize that it’s not enough to push yourself and win. Priyadarshi can play an everyday underdog as well as transform into a nouveau riche suave jock with enthusiasm. This is another good performance from him, showing that he is trustworthy.
Kalpika stoically plays Ruby and, in many places, lets her body language do the talking. The sequence where she tests her badminton skills in front of the school kids stands out in this season.
The third ‘loser’, so to speak, is Wilson. Now content to be a sports educator at a school, he finds renewed purpose when his teenage son John (Harshith) wants to be a bowler. This part of the story explores how nepotism works only from a space of privilege. The talented teenager has inherited his father’s temperament and his competitor on the court is a reminder of an old family enemy. Harshith is impressive as a young man eager to go, torn between love for his father and having to deal with memories of the past. Shashank is suitable as Wilson.
Loser 2’s effectiveness also stems from the fact that its writing doesn’t rule out supporting characters as bystanders. There are smaller story arcs for various characters. Ravi Varma as Coach Ravinder, Abhay Betiganti as Suri’s childhood friend, Gayathri Bhargavi as Ruby’s teacher, Shayaji Shinde and Satyaprakash as parents, Annie as young Ruby, and many others make their presence felt in their limited time.
As the story moves back and forth, the color palette and visual tonality undergo a change, aptly complemented by Manisha Dutt’s production design and Sriram Maddury’s music.
If there is something to choose, it has to do with a less sporty action. With all its focus on the emotional journeys of the characters, we don’t see enough sport. But perhaps, this season is meant to build momentum for the third season, the finale, where each of the players has their task ahead of them.
Source: Sangeetha Devi Dundoo, The Hindu, Direct News 99