Kothao Keu Nei is one of the most popular Bangladeshi television series of the 1990s which has been re-aired on Bangladesh Television amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Afnan Rahman writes about the popular series
WITH home quarantine turning up in Bangladesh, the mass people has been engulfed by despair and distress because of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the purpose to entertain people, Bangladesh Television has started to air the popular television drama, Kothao Keu Nei from April 6, 2020.
The re-airing of the show has intrigued enormous hype. Baker Bhai’s name was being constantly chattered from one to the other. Bits and pieces of some of its iconic scenes also went viral on social media. All of this sparked curiosity and I decided to watch the show for myself. As soon as I finished watching it, I figured why the buzz was so obvious. The engaging storyline, heart-touching dialogues, lifelike and relatable characters and impeccable acting legitimises its ageless hype.
Kothao Keu Nei is a television adaptation of Humayun Ahmed’s novel with the same title. Directed and produced by Barkat Ullah, the show has been in heights for decades. This drama series was first aired in 1993. Since then, it has been perpetuating a huge fan base for years. The nostalgia of the 90s, the simplicity of the characters, the depth and relevance of the dialogues and the cliff-hangers at the end of each episode holds suspense for the next. And before you know it, you make it to the final episode.
This fictional series revolves around the character, Muna (played by Suborna Mustafa) and Baker Bhai (portrayed by Asaduzzaman Noor). Baker Bhai, a local goon, swerves and bosses around the street. With an eagle eye, he looks out for the entire neighbourhood with two of his sidekicks, Bodi (portrayed by Abdul Kader) and Mojnu (portrayed by Lutfur Rahman George).
Initially, Baker Bhai evokes a ‘bad guy’ image. He stands by peoples’ menace, empathises with others misery and fights against the suppressed social issues. In short, he is the ultimate ‘peoples’ person’ in the locality. His suspicion on the arrival of a new neighbour brings tragic twist into his life and his close ones.
On the other hand, Muna is an educated and independent working woman. Her parents passed away when she was only a young girl. From then onwards she is raised by Shawkat (her maternal uncle) and Latifa (her maternal aunt). Her life encircles around her uncle, aunt and three younger cousins — Bokul, Leena and Babu. Whenever there is a clash, confusion or crisis in the house, she tactfully resolves them. She also has a love interest in the series whose name is Mamun. Being a dignified and fearless character, Muna always protests against the unjust.
No matter how different Muna and Baker Bhai are from one another, but their battles of life are equally and similarly arduous. Pivoting the struggles of Muna and Baker Bhai, the series depicts the hardship, sorrows and solitude that come along their way. Interestingly with no one to turn to, Muna and Baker Bhai always had each other’s back during their downfalls in life.
Humayun Ahmed, a maestro in kindling suspense, wrote the play with sheer intricacy. Each character’s role is significant in connection to the story’s major twists and turns. Particularly certain action of mama, mami and Bokul precedes to major turning points.
Muna’s uncle comes off as a strict parent. He is often seen to scold and beat his children for trivial reasons. However with his heart concealed with anxiety, depression and guilt, he is emotionally inexpressive to his family. Eventually, he gets entangled in a theft case which leaves the entire family startled.
With regards to that, Latifa, Muna’s aunt, is a physically frail woman. She suffers from respiratory issues. Unable to endure the tough situation that comes to the family, she passes away in grief and pain. Apart from the uncle and aunt, Bokul is another remarkable character in the series. A loveable and obedient teenager blended with a tint of innocence. Going through a transitive phase, from childhood towards the adulthood, she always aspires to be treated as an adult. But her grief and annoyance escalates whenever she feels that her family is treating her like a little girl. At one point Bokul gets involved with a family doctor. With that, another major plot twist comes into the story.
One of the best aspects of this series is how it vividly represents the details from everyday life of the 90s. Watching them is sure to bring peace amidst the spectator. For instance, Muna and her cousins taking the triumph of drenching in rain, tunes of ‘Hawa Mein Udta Jaaye’ waving out through cassette players from roadside tea-stalls, the elderly family members reading out stories and poems from books to the little ones, the silly squabbles between siblings and what not. Even anyone from the present generation can deeply resonate and fall in love with the simplicity of those trends.
The inherent humour, clarity, and sentiment in the dialogues speak for the quality of the script. People regardless of any class can relate with its spontaneity. Hilarious catchphrases of Bodi, such as — ‘Bhuri Galaya Dimu’ (I would disembowel you) and his translated rendition for ‘Gaaye Holud’ into ‘Body Turmeric’ would tickle you down to your funny bones.
Not only that, Baker Bhai’s bizarrely broken English accent is incredibly hilarious. ‘Less talking, more working’, ‘Okarone angry is bad for health’ and many such quirky dialogues are bound to crack up the audience. In contrast to the comedic aspect, the show lucidly brings out the emotional and dark side through rigorous dialogues. We always fall in love with the wrong person — this is Muna’s quote from one of the most popular scenes. Even youth from the current generation can deeply connect with such profundity.
Besides, there are a number of dialogues in this show which gives the audience a broader perspective of life. ‘There are many cruel humans in this world but a bad father does not exist’, Muna says this to the melancholic Bokul who constantly gets rebuked by her father. Muna’s lawyer shares a bitter reality from his personal life experience, ‘We do not hesitate to give money to beggars. But when a helpless lower middle class person knocks in cry for help; he gets mistrusted. People get sceptical of him.’ Thus, we see a blend of humour and in-depth dialogues which adds to the strength of the series.
We cannot go without mentioning the soundtracks those emotionally connect the audience to the flow of scenario. ‘Hawa Mein Udta Jaaye’, a Hindi song, symbolises Baker Bhai’s presence. The song ‘Aji Jhoro Jhoro Mukhoro Badolo Dine’ spurs up the love life of Muna and Mamun. Also, the poem ‘Maa Ke Amar Pore Na Mone’ is recited in one of the scenes to Leena for empathising with her mother’s demise.
The credibility of Kothao Keu Nei’s success largely goes to the spectacular crew of actors. With precision and flawless dialogue throwing, they pondered upon the audiences’ emotion. Popular actor, Asaduzzaman Noor’s acting was always greatly appreciated by Humayun Ahmed. Before Baker Bhai, the characters played by him were quite poised and decent. So needless to say, that playing a gangster was a huge challenge for him. But he accepted it with great enthusiasm. After closely studying the character he eventually succeeded to reincarnate Baker Bhai within himself.
Besides that, Suborna Mustafa has also been widely acclaimed for depicting a strong woman. Muna became a role model for many women. It gave them the courage to stand up to the bumpy pathways of life. Afsana Mimi debuted her acting career in television through this show. Undeniably she has been able to reach out to the sentiments of all the teenage girls who dreams of a beautiful marriage life.
Not to mention, Mozammel Hossain’s flawless act of depicting the repressed guilt and Lucky Enam’s on point representation of aunt’s helplessness bring tears to many viewers. Aside from that, Tamalika Karmakar is seen to play the part of an eccentric character named Shoma. The script demanded her to speak in a strange childish voice at many of her scenes. It puts everyone to wonder about this mysterious character.
This might come as an exaggeration but the show leaves austere effects on the audience. Most of the people forget that it is merely a fiction. In the 90s, the fans had a hard time accepting the twists of the last few episodes. People went down on the streets to protest the unjust in Baker Bhai’s life.
Also, Muna’s hair style became quite trendy at the time. Unmindful of it being a fiction, the show became a huge part of many peoples’ life too. Even today, the ending of the show leaves the audience stunned. Personally, I was shook as well. Many even asked Humayun to bring changes in the script. Nevertheless, he stayed put to his original storyline. This proves his constant envision of depicting actuality in his creation; no matter how crude it can get.
In my view, Kothao Keu Nei stands out as a fictional drama. Unlike any other clichéd television fiction, it equally spotlights the action of both the male and female protagonists — Muna and Baker Bhai. So, in particular there is no dominating character in this show. On top of that, the blend of humour and practicality makes it a popular television drama series.
Kothao Keu Nei is a must watch for the admirers of meaningful speech blended into real-life like anecdotes.
Afnan Rahman is a student of North South University.
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