Karagar: An Intricate Puzzle Box Mystery

By Sabrina Fatma Ahmad

Arguably this year’s biggest OTT hit, the first instalment of Karagar weaves a tale of suspense

A scant few weeks before the jail transfer, a mysterious stranger (Chanchal Chowdhury) appears inside the notorious Cell no 145 of the Akashnagar Central Jail, which has been closed off for the past half century.

There’s never an appropriate time for someone to gatecrash a prison, but it’s a particularly trying time for the prison authorities. The jailer (Intekhab Dinar) is scrambling to minimize the fallout from the scandal of a leaked video about an unauthorized jail visit by an unidentified woman. It is imperative for him that he keeps a low profile, because his own son is hiding inside the jail, disguised as an inmate, for reasons that are teased out as the show progresses. Finding no answers from the mysterious stranger, even after a good ol’ torture cell welcome, he seeks help from his police buddy Ashraf (FS Nayeem), who brings in his wife’s friend Maha (Tasnia Farin) who speaks sign language.

As the nameless prisoner begins to communicate his strange tale, it touches the lives of everyone who comes in contact with him, and their little schemes and secrets begin to unravel.

The premise alone is reason enough to want to tune into Hoichoi and binge watch Karagar. Syed Ahmed Shawki has managed to craft a beautifully complicated narrative, putting his stellar ensemble cast to work, weaving multiple suspenseful plotlines together to create a story that unfolds like one of those blossoms in floral teas, gaining more life and consistency as the heat is applied. The performances are a credit to the storytelling. Chanchal Chowdhury, of course, shines the brightest, but everyone else, from veterans like Intekhab Dinar and Bijori Barkatullah to relative newcomers F S Nayeem and Tasnia Farin, hold their own with aplomb. Honestly, however, the real star of the show was the setting. The Akashnagar Central Jail is a stunning location, and the cinematography really showed it to its best advantage.

We’ve been told that the first part of the two-part series focuses on the structure, and the second will answer all the questions posited, so it’s hard to predict if the gamble that was taken with this ambitious setup will pay off, but judging by the competence of Part 1, there is no reason not to have hope. A minor quibble yours truly has about this otherwise spectacular show is on the writing level; Intekhab Dinar is one actor who deserves lines with a little more nuance, instead of being left to sputter in consternation every time a new development comes to light. Similarly, a lot of the background characters in the prison seem to follow the theatre template of acting, waiting like marionettes for their cues. Fortunately enough, these moments are few and far between, and the positives far outweigh the cons. At the very least, Part 1 ended on such a massive plot twist cliffhanger, that it’s impossible not to anticipate the final instalment

Photo: Film Noir

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