Can’t Look Away

By Sabrina Fatma Ahmad

Amitabh Reza Chowdhury returns to Hoichoi with the ultimate binge of the year

An ageing judge with a fading memory is suddenly rendered unable to sleep as he is haunted by memories of his wife, and the recurring image of a young man he once sentenced to prison. His feisty feminist daughter teams up with a maverick detective to find an answer to this conundrum, and end up uncovering a massive criminal operation, putting their very lives at risk.

From the get-go, Bodh, Amitabh Reza Chowdhury’s Hoichoi comeback, reels you in with a compelling premise, and keeps you hooked as the story slowly unfurls, gaining complexity with every episode. From pacing, to dialogue, to character growth, the writing is tight on all levels, weaving multiple narratives together into one. There are two cases bothering Justice Alamgir Hossain (Afzal Hossain) at the beginning of the series: the death of his wife Dipti (Runa Khan) in what was ruled as a road accident, and the case of Shumon (Khairul Bashir), who was implicated in a botched mugging, for which Alamgir himself sent the young man to prison. When his daughter Srabonti (Sarah Alam) teams up with the disgraced maverick cop Ehsan (Shahjahan Shamrat), they open up a can of worms that pits them against a powerful criminal enterprise. While Alamgir, Srabonti and Ehsan ostensibly represent a social consciousness – the ‘bodh’ of the title – awakening to see justice being served, the parallel story, that of Shumon, an innocent man trapped in a corrupt system, is a heartbreaking counterpoint to the triller unfolding like origami with each episode.

The series is well served by perfect casting, and all the performances are practically flawless. Afzal Hossain has been enjoying a renaissance this year, first with Karagar and now Bodh, where his portrayal of a grief-stricken widower, a slightly frazzled father, a regretful judge, and an old man struggling to rage, rage against the dying of the light, is nothing short of virtuosity. His rapport with Sarah Alam as Srabonti feels warm and genuine. The other relationships featured in the series are also worth discussing – the sweet innocence of the romance between Shumon and Parvin (Orchita Sporshia), the crackling chemistry between Srabonti and DBI Officer Ehsan. Also worth noting is how well the female characters are written. They are imbued with a strength and power within the confines of their socio-economic positions. Alamgir’s wife Dipti Shaha stands up to local goons trying to encroach on community property. Her daughter Srabonti is savvy and street-smart, knowing when to play hardball with small-time crooks hindering her investigation, and when to hold back and call for backup. She challenges Ehsan about his methods, but also knows when to play along when the situation requires it. The sweet and gentle Parvin displays an iron will when it comes to protecting her man, and even minor characters like Dr Dilara (Dilara Zaman), the housemaid Renu, the crippled man Tamal’s wife, have enough lines and screen time as to not feel like background noise.

Amitabh Reza has directed nearly 1500 TVC’s; and the cumulative effect of what this insight into Bangladeshi homes and lifestyles can bring can be shown in the look and feel of this show. The story takes you from posh, upper-class club sports to grungy alleyways frequented by street thugs, and every detail feels authentic, and somehow larger than life, all at once, the curiously traffic-free roads being the only fantasy element.

Season 1 of Bodh ends on a cliffhanger of high tension, and this reviewer, for one, cannot wait to see where the show will go next.

Bodh(2022), the drama series is directed by Amitabh Reza Chowdhury, and stars Afzal Hossain, Runa Khan, Sarah Alam, Khairul Basar, Orchita Sporshia, Shahjahan Shamrat and Rawnak Hasan, alongside other cast members. The series has 8 episodes, each with a runtime of around 25 minutes.
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