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To Die Or Not To Die

Sruti Purkait 25th Sep 2020

Peeking into the black comedy Amazon Prime series ‘Afsos’, we fall head first into the absurd visual world where, as in life, humour is hard to disregard

Who knew ‘Emergency Exit’ would not just remain a sign restricted to transport vehicles, an exit door for people to jump out of in case of fire or crash? Writers Anirban Dasgupta and Dibya Chatterjee have certainly added a new connotation to those two words in the Amazon Prime series Afsos. Based on a Bengali novel (which is againan imaginary book created by the writers) ‘Golper Goru Chaande’ the series narrates the fictional story of Nakul (Gulshan Deviah), who seeks out death repeatedly to escape the unending misery of his life, only to be cheated by it every time. A time comes when he finally decides to live; and that is when death becomes inevitable. 

Still from the Amazon Prime series Afsos (2020) directed by Anubhuti Kashyap

Still from the Amazon Prime series Afsos (2020) directed by Anubhuti Kashyap

In the video describing the ‘Making of Afsos’, writers Anirban and Dibya say that their approach to Afsos was quite irrelevant and light-hearted. They were aiming at breaking the stereo types surrounding the protagonist (hero) persona, a therapist or an as sassin. Almost all the characters in the show have been portrayed in the grey zone in regard to their perspectives and actions. This was precisely the target of the writers where they wanted to create an absurd visual world where no one gets what they want.

Still from the Amazon Prime series Afsos (2020) directed by Anubhuti Kashyap

Still from the Amazon Prime series Afsos (2020) directed by Anubhuti Kashyap

The tale starts with Nakul who has unsuccessfully attempted suicide several times. One day, he comes across ‘Emergency Exit’; an agency that assists people with their own deaths – at least the ones who don’t have the courage to do it them selves. The task is given to the determined hit-woman Upadhyay (Heeba Shah) who never misses her target. Events take a bizarre turn when Nakul suddenly decides to live, but Upadhyay is determined to kill him. Things become more complicated when a sadhu from Uttarakhand comes looking for an immortal person and gets caught within the cat and mouse chase. 

Still from the Amazon Prime series Afsos (2020) directed by Anubhuti Kashyap

Still from the Amazon Prime series Afsos (2020) directed by Anubhuti Kashyap

The show, deftly directed by Anubhuti Kashyap, takes its viewers through a bizarre rollercoaster of events that never allows them to harbour one emotion for long. Anubhuti’s penchant for black comedy, existentialism and absurdist story telling invigorated her to take up the challenge of translating the script into a visual narrative, covered over eight episodes, while keeping the illusion intact. The makers of the show were determined to not portray any hard boundaries between the polar senses of morality i.e. good and evil or black and white. The characters swingin the grey zone – even Nakul’s diabolical the rapist Shloka Srinivasan (Anjali Patil. Even the typical hero person a is twisted into a character who starts the story being a loser and remains one till the very end of it. 

Still from the Amazon Prime series Afsos (2020) directed by Anubhuti Kashyap

Still from the Amazon Prime series Afsos (2020) directed by Anubhuti Kashyap

A lot of emphasis and effort was put on production designing to create the stark visual aesthetics. Cinema to grapher Krish Makhija had shot every frame in such a way that the void in the life in every character is consistently noticeable. The show approaches themes of existentialism, death, immortality in a bleak yet comical manner. Almost every dreary moment is juxtaposed with satire that is impossible to disregard.

Still from the Amazon Prime series Afsos (2020) directed by Anubhuti Kashyap

Still from the Amazon Prime series Afsos (2020) directed by Anubhuti Kashyap

Sruti Purkait is an up and coming writer from Kolkata

Read More: Free And Flawed

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