The premise of Dhaka Metro, a web series from Bangladesh, goes like this – A man, who is frustrated with his life, decides to leave Dhaka on a whim. During the road trip, he encounters bizarre events and meets different people.
Who doesn’t love a solid road trip film? I remember watching Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, and I immediately felt like I had to do this exact trip in my life. That’s the beauty of this genre. It is supposed to vicariously transport you to a place you have never been to before.
My expectations with Dhaka Metro fell short. I am not sure how I feel about the series because I am still not sure what the show was supposed to make me feel in the first place. In the first episode, after 30 seconds of showing the main protagonist Kuddus arguing with his wife over extramarital affairs in strong profane language, there is a quote from Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, “The human race is a monotonous affair,” on our screens.
As we see Kuddus leaning by the hood of his old car away from the bustle of the city, it is evident that the show is going to be a comment on the nonsensical way we live our lives. “A degree from LAC, living in an upper-class community, a 1000 sq ft lake-view apartment, a Porsche, a good looking feminist wife, a debutant girlfriend, a Facebook and Twitter account, fake happy selfies, a instagrammable life. Life is nothing but all these endless numbers collecting all these exotic things,” Kuddus says. And he sets off, without knowing where he is going.
The series, helmed by prominent Bangladeshi filmmaker Amitabh Reza Chowdhury, is an observation on all the absurdities of human beings. Every episode begins with a quote, but it may or may not have relevance to the episode. For instance, the second episode titled ‘Isolation’ has a quote from Andy Warhol that reads, “I think everybody should be nice to everyone.” Um. Sure.
The show does have its moments. There is an old grandmother in a village who claims to know Bob Dylan and sings his songs while strumming the guitar. A school principal who gives Kuddus a lesson in free-market economy and an entire episode where the creators try to explain the paradoxes of a communist structure in a capitalist world.
What really kept me hooked were the characters, each weirder and crazier than the next. Notably, the young boy Rahman who has many names and a runaway woman who joins Kuddus in this mind-bending expedition. Had the makers paid more attention to the plot, the show would have been better.
I found Dhaka Metro very difficult to binge and I had to watch it over a couple of days, despite it being only nine episodes long. Having said that, this Bangladeshi show is a different attempt in the road trip genre. The characters are intriguing and don’t look for closure – like our lives, the show doesn’t give us one.
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