‘Room No. 54’ is now streaming on ZEE5. In this section, we will be reviewing the latest web series.
The series tells the story of four Engineering students sharing the same hostel room. Moin plays Venkat Rao, Krishna Prasad plays Yuvaraj, Pawan Ramesh plays Prasanna and Krishna Teja plays Babai. The last of these is known for taking studies for granted since he is an aspiring film director. Prasanna is in love with a classmate, who triggers a sense of insecurity in him with her whimsicality. Now and then, an ex-resident of the hostel room appears and listens to their complaints. Can the students face the inevitable on the results day?
Director Siddharth Gowtham was intent on staging the series as a comedy. Targeted at youngsters, this one comes laced with the familiar kind of acting. You could well be watching Krishna Teja and others in a run-of-the-mill YouTube short film.
The girls are decent enough and look the part. Most of the guest actors leave little to no impact. Among them, Uttej, Tanikella Bharani and Harish Kodamagandla are impressive.
Satyadev Kancharana as a short-tempered visitor is fun to watch. Others like Narasimham are also a whiff of fresh air.
As far as music and cinematography go, ‘Room No. 54’ is not ambitious. It doesn’t meet the standards of series coming out on Aha, the Telugu-only streaming app, forget matching up to Netflix and Amazon Prime. Maybe, the web series was commissioned by an upstart YouTube channel and the makers just got lucky when ZEE5 bought their product. The level of music and cinematography here is just YouTube-level stuff. You got to offer it for free, not on a subscription-run OTT.
Somewhere in the 10-episode web series, a character talks about how to impress a girl. “Just pretend that you know palmistry. Read her palm and lie that she is emotional, sensitive and is always misunderstood by others. She will fall for you,” he says with total confidence. Situations like this are the saving grace of ‘Room No. 54’, which is otherwise replete with done-to-death themes/situations.
The episodes are not too long. Their length ranges from 15 minutes to 18 minutes. If you skip the intro and the end credits, the aggregate run time is about two hours perhaps.
The series doesn’t tap into the lecturer-student equations in Engineering colleges, barring a lame instance or two. The hostel room in which the four lead actors stay is spacious and they make it look like a mess by flooding the walls with photos of everyone from Silk Smitha to Shakeela and Madhuri Dixit. This cliched trope is staged in a boring manner.
They while away their time discussing useless issues like affairs with an aunty. The conversations are not dry but the humour is dull even when you see the likes of Priyadarshi on the monitor.
Upbeat music for stock scenes and hyping up stock characters is a deep flaw. An episode is titled ‘Father’s Visit’ but what the father’s visit leads to is of least interest. A girl seems to be talking in a mocking tone to evoke laughs.
The love story lacks a semblance of interest. The episodes have nothing like a cliff-hanger moment.
This would have been an interesting and updated series for the pre-memes generation perhaps. Watch it with low expectations.