Biswa Kalyan Rath’s web show that challenges Indian preoccupation with IIT degrees deserves a watch

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If you think we have come a long way as a country from the decades when students were thrust into engineering and medicine courses straight after finishing school, Biswa Kalyan Rath would urge you to think again. That’s strange, you tell him, considering that he is a stand-up comedian and belongs to a profession that was as alien back then as thermodynamics might have been to, ahem, some of us back in Class 12.

But Rath explains, “Engineering has only been replaced by chartered accountancy or consulting or something like that. We still have this practice of everyone veering towards one particular field, which is extremely detrimental for us as a society. We have so many people with so much potential, but we try to push them into slots, without realising that everybody doesn’t fit into that mould. In fact, most people are not meant for it.”

Biswa Kalyan Rath
Biswa Kalyan Rath

This tendency of Indian children being straight-jacketed into a linear career graph preordained by their parents forms the basis of a new show he’s conceived, called Laakhon Mein Ek. In it, a youngster named Aakash finds himself at sea after being enrolled in an IIT coaching centre. But his haplessness is juxtaposed with the stars that mummy and daddy have in their eyes about his future. So, even though he feels like a fish out of water, he decides to swim against the tide.

The plot structure, says Abhishek Sengupta, the director, is based on how Aakash survives being pushed into that deep end. He adds, “We wanted to keep the story real and comedy secondary, though the show does have its [humorous] moments.” But Sengupta is tight-lipped when we prod him to reveal more about how the story progresses. “You’ll have to watch it to find out,” he teases, giving us something to do with our laptops tomorrow, which is when Laakhon Mein Ek premieres.

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