With over 10 million views to its name after just two episodes, the PUBG Mobile live-action series Dosti Ka Naya Maidan has the chance of putting out some truly meaningful messages. Coming into episode three to see an all-female squad racking up the kills was enough to make me anticipate a brilliant and beautiful end to this wild ride of a series. But what I thought was a three-episode mini-series has turned into something more. There’s another episode dropping in two week’s time. Episode two was a garbled tale of being open to a changing society, while the message of the first episode was far more clear. Can the third fix the mistakes of its predecessor? It’s a swing and a miss, sadly.
Episode three starts out exactly how I imagine most people’s lives are like down in the city; having a business meeting in the elevator through PUBG Mobile comms before your landlord steps in to play the “I want to feed my children” card as he demands the rent. Buddy, if you can buy and rent out a penthouse complex and brag about “full optimization of space” yet be too broke to feed your kids, you should probably reevaluate your crappy business acumen. Oh, and maybe stop evicting tenants whenever they bring their partner home.
Ritviza, a rich woman trying to make it on her own, become’s the apartment’s new fourth roommate almost instantaneously. She calls for the documents before figuring out she’ll be bunking with Kavya. We’re then introduced to the other two women darting around Erangel in adequate gamer mood lighting — Malvika and Mary. Each one of this episode’s ladies come from different parts of the country in an attempt to highlight the cultural struggles of each locale in a way that won’t mean much to your average westerner peering in on the PUBG Mobile India YouTube channel. Elements of sisterhood and the patriarchy are apparent throughout.
Kavya runs a troubled startup making and delivering cookies, whereas Ritviza complains that sponging off her rich family comes at the cost of her freedom, essentially complaining that they won’t just send her off with a bottomless bank account for nothing. Apparently her inspiration is Rachel Green from Friends who gets “hotter” after breaking away from her rich relatives and carves her own path through life. The two are basically Rachel and Monica, except Ritviza ends up working for Kavya slinging cookies instead of coffee to make rent. Oh, and of course she plays PUBG Mobile. That conveniently gives the apartment its fourth squad member. The only question left is how Ritviza’s first batch of cookies compared to Rachel infamous meaty trifle.
Malvika and Mary, on the other hand, are fighting their own kind of feminist war. A corporate lifestyle pushed the once well-mannered Mary to become a spiteful worker who’s only taking on a single project in the hopes it’ll warrant a transfer out to Singapore away from her overwhelming boss. Then there’s Malvika. She has a knack for making her eyeballs bulge out of her skull when things get intense. She was bullied back in Delhi for her weight and is being forced into an arranged marriage with an Indian rapper over in Canada. He only likes her because she’s “the closest thing to an African-American chic.” What?
Over the course of the episode, it’s fair to say that not a massive amount happens in regards to the game. It’s more the glue that holds the group together. The two cookie queens work hard delivering cookies to GtxPreet and Owais (this episode’s pro player cameos), Mary quits as her boss decides the company “needs a man for this job,” and Malvika disobeys her parents by calling off the arranged marriage to the rapper. We don’t even get subtitles for the guy’s track before he vanishes into obscurity, but I guess that’s the point.
With everyone taking on the world on their own terms, Tencent delivers the final blow: Kavya’s swole boyfriend whips his shirt off and tries to seduce Ritviza on the couch. She rightfully protests, he references Wild Wild Country thinking it’ll help, she walks away, and he settles back into the couch — presumably admiring his own pectorals while blaming her rather than himself. Kavya confronts him at his home, finds another woman’s clothes by his bed, and dumps him with the most accomplished smile on her face. The women settle onto the couch to confide in each other, eat cake (not cookies), and make the connection between a good PUBG Mobile strategy and their real-life woes.
Dosti Ka Naya Maidan episode three barely focused on PUBG Mobile at all. Instead, it attempted to use the popularity of the brand to ignite meaningful discussions about the issues unfairly lumped onto women. Though there’s something to be said in that most of the screentime was dedicated to the two who had little to say on the matter. And why was it that an episode “dedicated to all the badass girls of PUBG Mobile” used its cameo spot on two guys for the women to gush over, completely muddying the message of the whole thing? Come to think of it, why does it take two people to answer the door?
The episode was doing a decent job before it squandered its inspirational undertones to give two more male content creators a segment that could easily have been saved for the next. Mary’s complaints to HR landed her a job at her company’s unheard-of esports division, and Malvika calling off the wedding actually got her and her now ex-fiance talking on their own terms. There’s a clear message throughout of standing up for yourself and only giving your time to those who respect it in return, but if the episode was trying to highlight how difficult it is for women to have their voices heard in the world, that one quick cameo scene undermined it all.