Descent to Madness

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Vicky Zahed’s TIKIT explores human greed

Anika Chowdhury

Winning a lottery ticket of Tk 50 lakh would be a dream of many. However, what if this ticket radiates something sinister, becoming a hex for the person who owns it? Would you still want it? TIKIT (2024) – a miniseries directed by Vicky Zahed and streamed on the OTT platform Chorki – tells an ominous and thrilling tale of a couple of unfortunate bus riders, who fall victim to the allure of a lottery ticket.  

This six-episode web series is a perfect blend of dark comedy, thriller, and satire – adapted from a story by Mohammad Nazim Uddin. With an ensemble cast led by Siam Ahmed, Safa Kabir, and Manoj Pramanik, TIKIT unravels the dire consequences of greed – making it a riveting and unsettling binge-worthy series.

The series kicks off with an air of something foreboding, as passengers Salek (played by Siam Ahmed) and Atabor (Manoj Pramanik) board on a journey that promises nothing out of the ordinary. However, the discovery of a lottery ticket belonging to their next-seat neighbour quickly spirals out of control, leading to an accidental murder that sets the tone for the ensuing chaos. The simplicity of the premise belies the complexity of the human psyche that TIKIT aims to explore, with each episode peeling back layers of desperation and deceit among the passengers.

Vicky Zahed’s direction is tight and purposeful, creating a claustrophobic atmosphere that amplifies the tension. The confined space of the bus becomes a character in its own right, a microcosm of society where every decision has rippling effects. Zahed masterfully uses close-ups and dim lighting to heighten the sense of entrapment, making us almost as desperate for escape as the characters themselves.

The cast delivers performances that are nothing short of hair-raising. Siam Ahmed, as Salek, skilfully portrays the transformation from an average man to one capable of murder, driven by the blinding promise of wealth. His descent into moral ambiguity is mirrored by Suborna’s character (played by Safa Kabir), who plays the role of a prostitute and the potential love interest of Salek. 

Suborna’s initial innocence coupled with the witch-like aura makes her eventual participation in the greed-fuelled frenzy all the more jarring. Manoj Pramanik aka Atabor equally delivers a compelling performance, offering a glimpse into the psyche of a man who is an offender driven by greed and lust.

What sets TIKIT apart is its exploration of greed not just as a personal failing, but as a societal ill. The lottery ticket, a symbol of unearned gain, triggers a chain reaction of events that expose the passengers’ willingness to abandon morality for the sake of wealth. The series does not shy away from depicting the ugliness of this transformation, making it a poignant commentary on the human condition.

However, TIKIT is not without its flaws. While the series aims for a realistic portrayal of its characters’ descent into greed, some motivations feel underdeveloped, leaving the viewer questioning the believability of certain actions. At times, the pacing of the plot feels uneven, with certain episodes lingering too long on setup and others rushing through pivotal moments.

Despite these shortcomings, TIKIT shines in its cinematography and sound design. The series makes excellent use of its setting, with the bus’s confined space providing a tense backdrop for the drama. The cinematography, with its emphasis on shadow and light, underscores the thematic darkness of the narrative. The sound design, too, is noteworthy, using a mix of diegetic and non-diegetic sounds to underscore the tension and provide a haunting auditory experience.At its core, TIKIT is a morality tale for the modern age, a reminder of the thin line between civilisation and savagery that exists in all of us. It asks the viewer to consider what they would do in the face of unimaginable temptation and at what cost. This philosophical underpinning raises the series from a simple thriller to a thought-provoking study of human nature.

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