The series depicts a corporate individual named Kuddus, played by Neville, who decides to leave Dhaka because of various frustrations and the new chance encounters he has with people from various walks of life. The series starts off with him and his inner thoughts which will not leave you alone till the last episode
Indian media and entertainment company Shree Venkatesh Films’ (SVF) Bangla-content streaming platform Hoichoi has recently entered Bangladesh with a bang. Their gateway original series for the Bangladeshi audience was a web series titled “Dhaka Metro” directed by the prominent Bangladeshi filmmaker Amitabh Reza Chowdhury.
His debut web series features Bangladeshi actors: Neville Ferdous Hasan, National Award-winner Aupee Karim, Shariful Islam Shamim, Sharmin Joha Shoshi, and Mustafa Monwar.
Originally written by Amitabh Reza Chowdhury and Aditya Kabir as a film—almost ten years ago—the project was later turned into a nine-episode-long web series financed by Hoichoi. Though, with a star-studded cast, the supposedly dark-comedy thriller series failed to grab my interest in any manner.
The series depicts a corporate individual named Kuddus, played by Neville, who decides to leave Dhaka because of various frustrations and the new chance encounters he has with people from various walks of life. The series starts off with Kuddus and his inner thoughts which will not leave you alone till the last episode.
On his road trip of soul searching he is joined by a kid named Rahman, played by Shariful Islam — and a runway woman played by Aupee Karim who has returned to acting after a long break with “Dhaka Metro.” Later on, they also met with a drunk truck driver/poet played by Mustafa Monwar, famed for “Live from Dhaka.” Despite all these amazing actors and their spot-on performances, the storyline of the series is so vague and disruptive, it fails to grab your attention for each of its 20-minute-long episodes.
This is the first web series of its kind produced in Bangladesh—with strong language plus graphic, mature, and violent images—exposing some of the serious issues of this nation through dark humour. The poor dialogue of its screenplay is an insult to actors like Neville Ferdous Hasan, Aupee Karim, and Mustafa Monwar — but they have performed as best they could.
Moreover, the screenplay and dialogue, written by Naseef Faruque Amin, has hundreds of inconsistencies in it. For example the first thing that hit me at the beginning of the first episode is that this corporate hotshot executive exits his posh apartment and starts his road trip in his 2001 Toyota Corolla Station Wagon. I mean, was this a stylistic choice or was this another dark joke that Kuddus talks about a Porsche in the trailer but we see him in a worn out but newly-painted station wagon instead?
Also why were there so many references to philosophers in this story, without any proper establishment. Each episode starts off with a quote by renowned figure and some of them were misspelled like Andy Warhol, an American artist, director and producer, became ‘Andy Warhoi’ in the start of episode 2. The English subtitles were also a major issue and filled with typos and sentences that do not make any sense.
Another major turnoff was the kid named Rahman who had nothing to do in the main storyline and could have been easily been cut from the screenplay. Indeed his performance was great but the lines that he threw felt like he was a horrible court jester of Kuddus and in some scenes it was hard to bear all this forced stupidity.
Another episode titled “Muktanchal” tried to mock the communist state structure as well as the oppressive capitalist world—which could have been the unique aspect of this show—but the creators of the series quite visibly seemed to have no clear concept of either systems. Yet if this or any of the above were intentionally done then “Dhaka Metro” undoubtedly deserves to be a cult classic.
Apart from the tiring screenplay, the technical aspects of it were also annoying. The whole series was shot in mid-winter in the Northern regions of Bangladesh yet there are only a few shots which depict its scenic beauty to the audience.
Unflattering camera work and color grading makes it terrible to watch on a big screen. I was forced to switch from my TV to smartphone by the third episode as it was literally painful to the eyes. The great thing is the series did not have the horrible out of sync dubbing or The Automated Dialogue Replacement (ADR) like all the other Bangladeshi web content out there. The sound mix and design was decent enough and had on-location sound recording but in a lunch scene in episode 2 the boom pole made a cameo.
Overall, this was undoubtedly a great plot for a road trip dark comedy thriller. It had all the right elements, a brilliant cast, and was helmed by one of Bangladesh’s greatest film-makers. I do not know why the screenplay was made this way but Hoichoi is an international Video On Demand (VOD) platform which is available for Android, iOS, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV; and recently for Android TV, and Roku, and serving Bangla language content to the world. This was the first Bangladeshi web series by a prominent director out to the world. If this weak writing, faulty production, misspelled quotes, and wrong subtitles are the Bangladesh content industry’s image to the world audience, then we need to work a lot harder.
Siam Raihan is a film editor and a sub-editor at the Dhaka Tribune’s Showtime Desk