Mumbai, 13 Jul 2022 0:56 IST
Created by Sarang Sathaye and written by Saurabh Shamraj, the six-episode series touches upon several burning issues.
Seven years ago, when streaming platforms were yet to make their way into India, at least legally, The Viral Fever came up with the seminal web-series TVF Pitchers and since then, the medium has blossomed alongside television and cinema. The series was about four guys who quit their high-paying jobs in order to come up with their own start-up.
The Marathi YouTube channel Bharatiya Digital Party (BhaDiPa), a heavyweight in the digital content world, has come up with an ambitious show BE Rojgaar, which is also about three youngsters who aim to establish a start-up.
But unlike the protagonists of Pitchers, these three engineers — Piyu aka Vada (Sai Tamhankar), Papdya (Sambhaji Sasane) and Akshay (Jagdish Kanam) — don't have lucrative jobs. Piyu and Papdya, in fact, are unemployed while Akshay works as an agent who has to call up people and sell houses. All three come from different socio-economical backgrounds and now live as paying guests in a small BHK apartment in Pune.
Piyu hails from a small village in Vidarbha and she is the first person in her family to complete her higher education. Her parents want her to settle down as soon as possible. Piyu not only has to face taunts for not being married but also for being the young men's companion.
Akshay, who struggles with low self-esteem — which makes him susceptible to panic attacks, is the sole breadwinner of his family. Papdya, on the other hand, belongs to a well-off family but doesn't want any help from his father.
Created by Sarang Sathaye and written by Saurabh Shamraj, the six-episode series tries to explore various issues such as the record rise in unemployment, the commercialization of the education system, the outdated curriculum, mental health, the agrarian crisis, the evils of dowry, the importance of female education and the coronavirus pandemic. I'm sure I must have left something out, but the series manages to touch upon many subjects without losing sight of the main plot.
Apart from a few minor missteps, the result achieved by the creative team is laudable. The first thing that strikes the viewer is the makers' sincere take on unemployment, an important but complicated topic that is intrinsically tied to numerous social issues.
Although the series never mentions it overtly it also highlights how the woes of farmers contribute to unemployment. After seeing their parents' plight, the children of ploughmen choose to move to cities and take up different professions. Naturally, this increases competition for limited jobs.
Writer Saurabh Shamraj has quite intelligently infused serious subjects into the screenplay and has used certain characteristics to highlight these issues. For example, Akshay's struggles shed light on how toxicity at the workplace is negatively impacting the mental health of the youngsters.
Interestingly, Akshay hails from the Buddhist community, which is still struggling to attain financial stability and social status in India. The community's lack of resources and troubles have a strong and long-lasting effect on the confidence of its children and youth.
The series moves at a slow pace and takes its own sweet time to come to the point. It even uses filler scenes to make statements. For instance, there is a sub-plot about the trio's landlord Pankaj (Danny Pandit) and his girlfriend, which doesn't add anything substantial to the story but addresses the stigma surrounding sex.
Although the screenplay feels drawn-out at times, what is admirable is the writer's refusal to resort to unnecessary comedy to keep the audience interested. There are few light-hearted scenes, but for the most part, the series manages to keep the tone serious which helps the audience relate with the trio. I appreciate that the series doesn't do disservices to the characters for the sake of including jokes.
Tamhankar has once again delivered a nuanced and understated performance as a woman trying to make a mark while fighting prejudice. Her Piyu never makes statements about female empowerment as her actions are enough. Tamhankar has also brought much-needed vulnerability to her character. Despite being the most experienced and famous artiste, she doesn't mind playing second fiddle most of the time. This is not an easy feat for a famous actress who is known for playing the lead in super hit films.
The newcomers Jagdish Kanam and Sambhaji Sasane also give excellent performances. Sasane's Papdya initially comes across as a confident lad but we slowly find out that he is harbouring pain despite his devil-may-care attitude. The series allows him to go on a journey of realization. Kanam is equally brilliant as someone plagued by self-worth issues.
I wished they had spent more time exploring the changing dynamics of the relationship between Papdya and his father. It probably would have given more gravitas to the former's struggles. Nevertheless, what shines in BE Rojgaar is the earnest attempt to tell a story about the struggles of the youth of India.
The series is being streamed on YouTube.
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