Ours is a society that discriminates on the basis of one’s social and economic class and even though it is not a desirable factor for any progressing society, such is the way we function. In the context of Indian society, one’s social standing is also determined by the institute their kids study in and that is where the monster of IIT steps in.
Biswa Kalyan Rath’s ‘Lakhon Mein Ek’ on Amazon Prime Video is a dark commentary on the life of a student whose ambitions are not academic but the family pressure to get into IIT gets to him. The story of the series is around a teenage boy Akash (Ritvik Sahore) from Raipur who is a rather mediocre student. He has no aptitude for science but is under immense pressure from his parents to get into IIT. Every condescending statement his father utters reeks of his dreams for his son to get into IIT. And Akash has no option but to follow his ways. This leads him to a coaching center in Vishakhapatnam where he is thrown into a class where the teachers don’t want to teach and students get by with cheating in the exams. Akash tries to hold his head up high for a while but soon gives in to the ways of his friends.
His friends, Bakri (Jay Thakkar) and Chudail (Alam Khan), are the only ones he can connect with and the boys try to survive by striking deals with the peons. Akash isn’t a lazy bum. He genuinely tries to cram his study material but we soon figure out that this world of hard-core academics is not meant for him. Biswa Kalyan Rath plays the Section A teacher here, who teaches the smart kids and Akash fools himself into believing that with good teachers on his side, he will actually understand the concepts but all of this is in vain. At some point, one feels that Biswa’s character could be the one that saves Akash. We want him to have a moment with the boy but that would have made the drama a little too filmy.
The show paints a dark picture of the student life in a hostel where kids are treated like prisoners and are openly discriminated on the basis of their academic excellence. We’re faintly reminded of Vikramaditya Motwane’s ‘Udaan’ but those impressions leave as the show progresses.
Biswa tries to create a world that wants to sympathise with its protagonist but there are just no reliefs that make us hopeful for the boy. We can see his doom and after a point it becomes rather tragic to watch the boy spiral down. He is bullied, cornered and left begging for drugs just so he can survive a single day without getting beat up. By the 5th episode of the series, one is left with the constant expression of feeling sorry for Akash. And it makes you wonder that this is not the only hostel of such kind in India and Akash’s parents aren’t the only ones pressuring their son to get into IIT.
Biswa Kalyan Rath has been known for his stand-up comedy until now but with this series, we see that there is more to this artist than making people laugh. This is certainly not his best attempt at creating a dark, depressing world as by the climax of the show, we can see the loose ends he has left behind. A lot of details introduced in earlier episodes are ignored later. The sound design deserves a special mention here, specially in portions when the dengue epidemic is starting to spread across the hostel.
Ritvik Sahore gives his all to making Akash believable. The boy makes you feel sorry, sympathetic but he also makes you laugh. The desi web-series have found an audience and it is honestly quite refreshing to watch a show that delves into something that exists all around us but has a rather dark side.