’Never Have I Ever’ is a hearty-pragmatic tribute to the dual identity struggles of Desi NRI millennials in America
New Delhi | Jagran Entertainment Desk: Hansal Mehta’s ‘Simran’, whose titular role was played by Kangana Ranaut – gave the Indian audience a glimpse of real NRI struggles in America beyond the foreign romanticism of Karan Johar and Yashraj’s.
This time, the pompy and poshy image of NRIs has been shaken aback by the pragmatism of a Netflix driven transition, of what is actually the most movingly hilarious and yet somberly real portrayal of a 15-year old Devi exploring her identity and balancing her ambitions while being footed between Indian traditional norms and American modernism – all at the same time.
The show stars debutant Maitreyi Ramakrishnan who plays Devi Vishwakumar, the daughter of dermatologist Nalini (Poorna Jagannathan) and Mohan (Sendhil Ramamurthy). Devi is an American girl of Indian origin, undergoing ritualistic struggles while attempting to discover herself in an American school while being consistently told to stay in tandem with her desi Indian roots.
Devi is real – because she is messy as a teen, dreamy as a typically brilliant migrant Indian product and wacky while managing the chaos which comes in an American setting for a first-generation immigrant school-goer. Nothing is quite so exceptional about her, and that’s exactly what makes ‘Never Have I Ever’ different among the other shows like ‘Riverdale’ (which are frequently referenced by Devi and her school friends) from where millennial relativism in pop culture comes among the Instagram generation.
Devi’s mother Nalini, played brilliantly by Poorna Jagannathan, isn’t the cliché of a mother which women with desi origins in America are usually up to show, quite religiously. Nalini is more like Sridevi’s NRI sister (played by Sujata Kumar) in Gauri Shinde’s ‘English Vinglish’ (2012) – practical but rooted, only surrounded by more vulnerabilities – living an an independent professional in the US having lost her husband and raising her daughter as a single mother balancing all the responsibilities in tandem.
Without overemphasizing upon her vulnerabilities and awing to her over-cautious cousin, Kamala (Richa Moorjani), Devi wonderfully negotiates between her likes and dislikes, chaos and solitude, love and loss, friendships and breakdowns – confrontations with her dermatologist mom Nalini and her best friends Elle (Ramona Young) and Fab (Lee Rodriguez). Cherry on the top is Tennis legend John McEnroe who has been roped in as narrator because he happened to be the idol of Devi's dead father.
Watch it on a binge – it’ll blow your breathe with a fresh breeze of pragmatic writing and fantastic acting performances.
Posted By: Abhinav Gupta