What is the story about?
One night, Harun, the officer in charge of the Kotwali police station in Dhaka, is tasked with saving Afnan Chowdhury, the spolit son of industralist Alamgir Chowdhury, from being arrested for a hit-and-run accident, in exchange for money. But as the night wears on, and one obstacle keeps cropping up after another, the case becomes complicated. Can Harun save Afnan from going to jail, or is there a bigger game in play?
I'll stick my neck out and say this: it's taken nearly four years, but Hoichoi finally has a series they can proudly show off to the world. In the last couple of years, with one or two exceptions, Hoichoi's Bangladeshi content has generally been great, and a sort of mirror to the concept-starved filmmakers on this side of the border . After last week's horror show that was Mouchaak, it fell to the most-anticipated Bangladeshi show of this quarter to salvage the platform's reputation. But Mohanagar goes several steps further.
This series might not have any link with Satyajit Ray's iconic 1963 film, but its immediate storyline serves as a bigger window for a metropolis obsessed with power and capitalism. Money is supposed to trump over morals, and the custodians of law and order will do anything for a price. Creator and director Ashfaque Nipun crafts a story of corruption and greed that grows increasingly complex as the night progresses, but the real beauty of the screenplay is how well he frames the metropolis of Dhaka as a microcosm of all shades of humanity cutting across class lines. OC Harun is the spider in Nipun's narrative web, and he is a real piece of work: he is constantly shifty and calculates how best he can stand to benefit from the misfortunes of others while preserving the prestige of his job. Yet, he is also a human being prone to bouts of envy, and his crooked ways may actually bring more effective results in the long-run as compared to the honest ways of his deputy Moloy and his superior, AC Shabana Huda.
The characters in this show are all grey, with their own ambitions and insecurities. Afnan has his own delusions of supremacy over others; a character, Abir, lets his fear of the police land him into a difficult situation when all he wanted to do was sleep with his colleague; and Shahana and Moloy pursue justice with a subconscious desire for their own betterment. Through their experiences over the night, Nipun shows, with relative panache, how the world cannot always be divided into "good" and "bad", and that a city needs talents and morals of all kinds in order to function. This series does not keep piling on twist after twist for the heck of it, but takes its time and unfurls them gradually, with the last episode coming as a surprising jolt and setting things up for a crackling second season. Even in its supposedly dark moments, Nipun's screenplay is not short on humour, and there is hope even in the depths of cynicism. This is an ambitious series that lives up to its billing, and marks Hoichoi's finest-ever show in its entire history.
Mohanagar needed a great actor who could portray the morally ambiguous role of OC Harun, and they land the right person. Mosharraf Karim is the supernova powering this show, portraying Harun's vices and complexities in such a way that you don't quite know whether to root against him or marvel at his cunning ways. Zakia Baria Mamo plays his strict superior, AC Shahana Huda, with ruthless aplomb. Mostafizur Noor Imran is solid as the upright Moloy, who seethes at Harun's corrupt ways. Khairul Basar is all right as the hapless Abir, who unwittingly gets mixed up in Harun's plans. Shamol Mawla shines as the bratty Afnan, with the series showing more and more of his devilishness as the night progresses. Lutfar Rahman George shines in his menacing cameo as Alamgir Chowdhury. Rukaia Jahan Chomok is okay as Priyanka, a starlet who tries to blackmail Afnan into marrying her. Nishat Priom shines as Rumana, Abir's colleague, whose initial plan to have sex with Abir snowballs into a night of chaos for him.
Music & Other Departments
Jahid Nirob's background score is terrific and lends character to the complicated story. HM Sohel's editing and Barkat Hossain Polash's cinematography effectively portray the dark side of Dhaka. Quazi Tanvir Rashid Apu's production design is superb.
The dialogues are the life and soul of this show, and Harun gets the best lines. Sample: "Criminal aar taka, jodi thake noseebe, aapni aapni ashibe".
The last episode leads the story to a surprising stage and sets the stage for an electrifying second season.
Did I enjoy it?
Hell yes. It grips your attention from the first episode.
Do I recommend it?
Absolutely. Watch it for the magnificent Mosharraf Karim, if not for the complex storyline.