“Laakhon Aaye Laagane Yeh Thappa,
Tu Bhi Laakhon Mein Ek”…
That’s the sum up of the mainstream education system in India in one line. Almost 90% of parents want their kids to join engineering or medical after 12th and to fuel these dreams, coaching centres are always ready. Kids of mediocre aptitude give in to the pressure of their parents, ending up at an esteemed institute which is no less than a Juvenile prison, and if they fail to crack the entrance exams, their fate might be tragic and sad.
Laakhon Mein Ek from Amazon Prime is an honest dark story of an average student who gets admitted in a pre-IIT coaching institute, much to his discomfort. Created by one of the best stand-up comedian of recent times, Biswa Kalyan Rath, Laakhon Mein Ek is one of its kind in the genre of web-series that we all must watch, and if possible, with our parents (with a little bit of discomfort). It gives the audience a closer look at the cut-throat world that we’ve only known through newspaper headlines.
Akash, a teenage from Raipur, is a mediocre student who scores 55% in the 10th board exams and wants to be a YouTuber. He likes to mimic actors and owns a channel on YouTube. However, his father has some other plans for Akash. He sends Akash to IIT coaching classes at Vishakhapatnam. While staying in a hostel, Akash makes two best friends, Chudail and Bakri, who are morally ambiguous but true friends.
The mismatch between expectations and reality, breakdown due to system overload, discrimination on the basis of grades (and a little reference to casteism in Indian society), taking the help of cheating, drugs, and so on, make the colourful teenage life trapped and cornered.
In the end, Akash thinks of taking an extreme step to get rid of the burden of his parents’ expectations which he’s unable to fulfil. What happens next? Catch it in the six episodes of Laakhon Mein Ek on Amazon Prime.
Cast, Creator and Director
Ritvik Sahore plays the role of Akash with all his heart. He looks side-lined and bullied with his vulnerability. When he hopelessly goes towards the notice board to find his name at the last or scrapes dead skin off his fingers during exams, it can make you feel sorry and sympathetic as well as make you laugh at right moments. His two besties, Gaurav Sharma aka Chudail, played by Alam Khan, and Bakri, played by Jay Thakkar, were his support system in the whole series. Besides, Shiv Subramaniam as the stern Mr Moothy, who runs Genius Infinity coaching centre is apt.
The whole series is the brainchild of Biswa Kalyan Rath and his expertise in the script, dialogues, and storytelling are quite evident. The story sticks to its genre template till the end and you wonder if there are many institutes like Genius Infinity One and parents like Akash’s who cannot connect with their children and impose all their unfulfilled dreams on their children’s tender shoulders.
Director Abhishek Sengupta has done a good job but the background score by Neel Adhikari needs special mention. His sound design can give you chills (during a dengue epidemic situation in the hostel).
A special mention for the title track sung by Mohan Kanan as the song captures the mood of the series without a fail.
Wow or Blah?
The series efficiently portrays the dark side of a hard-core academic rat race where millions of kids are compelled to run, whether they have that aptitude or not. It has familiar characters: best friends with weak morals, robotic teachers, ruthless caretakers, nervous and bribe-loving peon, education business-minded chief, nerdy topper, innovative cheating plans, emotionally distant parents etc. which may remind you of ‘Udaan’ or ‘3 Idiots’. Despite having some loose ends, the mechanics of the environment, minute details, smart writing, and no-frills aesthetic makes Laakhon Mein Ek a better form as compared to those of the mainstream platforms.
P.S. Biswa himself is an alumnus of IIT Kharagpur and if you’ve heard him talking about his IIT days, he calls himself the black sheep in his IIT, ironically he became successful in pulling out of the rat race. Doesn’t that make him Laakhon Mein Ek?
Catch the series on Amazon Prime.