Dhaka Metro on hoichoi: A Journey of a Man in Search of Himself
What does it take for a person to be happy? A big house, a respectable job? A posh circle of friends, an educated and good-looking partner? What if your nine-to-nine job, meetings, con-calls, appraisals, and work trips leave you tired, suffocated, and gasping for breath? What if your friends are just acquaintances to validate your success which just feel like a good thing without their praise and jealousy? If your supposedly “better” half has nothing in common with you, and your own promiscuous ways make you a suspicious partner, what do you do?
You run away. Or, at least, you want to. And, what if you actually do run away?
The new Bengali web series named Dhaka Metro on hoichoi is about a man frustrated with his apparently complete life in the city, and decides to run away. Dhaka Metro is based on a story written by Bangladesh eminent filmmaker Amitabh Reza Chowdhury, several years ago, to turn into a film. Unfortunately, that plan fell through, and the story lay buried among a pile of other projects that came in the way of Chowdhury. Finally, when it was time for him to make a web series for hoichoi, he knew immediately which story of his would work well. Thus, Dhaka Metro was made, with the entire series divided into nine episodes.
The story of Dhaka Metro begins with the blunt confession of the anchor of this story, a corporate urbanite named Kuddus that he is deeply unhappy in his life of luxury and success, and in his conjugal life, as he neither understands nor trusts his educated, feminist wife; as he derogatorily calls his wife an educated feminist as though it is a bad thing to be one, you realise that his bitterness towards his wife comes from his own promiscuous nature and his failure to find love in his loveless marriage – or add it.
Kuddus leaves on a journey towards the unknown.
On his way, he encounters strange people and gets entangled in surreal situations. One of the first people he encounters is Rahman, a young boy with many names and a treasure chest of philosophical insights. It’s almost as if Kuddus is embraced by the gifts of grace in the young boy’s presence, as he imparts lessons of forgiveness, patience, and love in a simple way. On the other hand, there’s a runaway woman who jumps into Kuddus’ car and joins his journey to nowhere. This woman named Jaba is a complete opposite of Jaba, and is a mere mortal with all the vices.
Each symbolism in the story is so subtle that it takes an eye for implicit allegory on the viewer’s side to understand the importance of Rahman’s presence in the story. The symbolism doesn’t end with the characters. Every episode takes a dig at the reality, without being explicitly didactic or satirical. It’s important to be careful about the names of the episodes: Relation, Alienation, Recollection, Exemption, Incarceration, Self-Regulation, Ennui, Delusion, The Last Journey. From referring to Communism and Capitalism to recognising the cursed fate of an entire village obsessed with America and Trump, there’s a lot said in this story.
The death of poetry and the moment a sex-worker gets seduced by poems that she paid for are particularly powerful. Religious terrorism, honour killing, extramarital affair, and more find place in the series. The moments of hilarity, like Jaba looking for an American husband or feeling amused while enjoying a ‘stolen’ meal, or the police inspector analysing the characters of the people of Germany, France, and America with the help of graphic descriptions of toilets are part of the dark humour of the show.
Young Shariful Islam as Rahman does a believable job with his natural acting skills.
He takes the spotlight away from actors like Aupee Karim and Neville Ferdous Hasan, and shows no sign of ‘acting’ in front of the script or having read and learnt a script by heart. Neville and Aupee, too, play very important roles as the main poles of the story. Even Sharmin Joha Shosheen and Mostafa Monwar do a wonderful job, even though it’s in a single episode. Every performance seems to fit fluidly in the flow of the story, with no forced performance.
The music in this series, too, is an important part of the journey you’ll take with Kuddus.
The theme song of the series, Shotta, is a power-packed, energetic rap song in which Adit Rahman’s music, along with the words of Towfique Ahmed and Faisal Roddy, uses rhyme and rhythm to capture the chaos and confusion in the head of a man struggling with an existential crisis. Another song in the series, featured in the episode Bhrom, is sung by Neville himself, and is inspired by ‘Blowing in the Wind” by Bob Dylan, who is mentioned extensively in the episode; the song adds an element of dichotomy, again, with a simultaneous touch of upliftment and pain. Throughout the series, the gentle background score matches the mood set by the mystical greeneries.
Dhaka Metro on hoichoi is a spiritual thriller with a dark comedic narration.
Granted, the script could have been crisper and more gripping; and, it would have been nice if the quotes at the beginning of each episode didn’t have typographical errors. The educated, suspicious, foul-mouthed, Kuddus, hating women who know what they want, might not seem like the right fit as the anchor of a story; but then again, he is real and flawed, and that makes him relatable; plus, his character is sketch has derision in it, and the irony is subtle. The final episode ends abruptly and will leave you wondering if that’s what you, and the story, deserve. But then, that’s the point of a cliff-hanger: it leaves you asking for more. In the end, it brings alive a very real struggle – a struggle to find the meaning and purpose, independence and happiness. To sum it up, Dhaka Metro on hoichoi is the story of you and me. Don’t miss it.