- Platform: Reeldrama
- Original Air Date: 14/09/2022
- Cast: Surjyasikha Das, Swagata Bharali, Dhananjaya Debnath, Akshit Goswami
- Director: Dhruva J Bordoloi and Himjyoti Talukdar
Trojan is a new Assamese series directed by Dhruva J Bordoloi and Himjyoti Talukdar streaming on Reeldrama. The series follows an investigation revolving around a ransomware attack on a fictional bank. For the uninitiated, a ransomware attack is when external entities take control of a computer or a network of computers and blackmail the owner/owners to pay a sum of money to give back access to the files and data. While in the case of personal users, formatting and reinstalling the operating system solves the problem (albeit at the cost of losing all data and files stored on the machine), the same attack carried out against a financial institution like a bank with a complex architecture and innumerable machines in the shared network performing different tasks, can have dire and pronounced consequences. The same is skillfully captured and documented in Trojan.
In Trojan, we witness a fictional bank (catering to a tier B or C demographic of Assam, similar to Bandhan Bank) being attacked and held for Ransom by cybercriminals. While the bank is helpless and is forced to pay the attackers, the apparently middle-class clientele of the bank who have their life’s savings saved in the bank go berserk. The ramification of the attack can be felt across media, politics, and law enforcement triggering numerous powerful individuals. The rest of the series is about tracking down the attackers, recovering the bank’s system, finding out the loopholes, and understanding how the attack was carried out. The series also documents in detail the actions and motivations of all the people involved in the predicament.
Relevant, structured, well-executed
A story of this nature had to be made sometimes in a place like Assam. While the subject has been tackled in other parts of India, it was about time that something like this was made in Assam. I loved the fact that the story and the screenplay are envisioned and executed in a manner that successfully documents and conveys the quantum of the problem that such an attack can pose. I also liked the fact that the directors never try to oversimplify things and use a certain number of technical terms. They also don’t try to explain complex concepts through the dialogues between characters.
The directors have faith in the intelligence of the audiences and leave certain aspects of the series for them to discover on their own. This results in the dialogue between characters turning realistic and the problem feel a lot more real, intriguing, and investing. Dhruva J Bordoloi and Himjyoti Talukdar also ensure that the proceedings and the subject are intelligible to an extent that makes the audiences strive to discover what is not explained.
Engaging and constantly surging narrative
The screenplay of Trojan moves at a temperamental pace. The series is 9 episodes long and each episode is between 25-35 minutes. However, I never felt the pace of the narrative dwindling simply because there is always something happening. The characters leading the investigation are written in such a way that ensures that they are the ones driving the narrative forward instead of their predicament and situations. This keeps the proceedings breezy, investing, and interesting. I would go to the extent of saying that the relatively slow pacing helps in keeping the series intelligible to a greater extent. There are a few moments when you feel that the editing could have been a little snappier but those are minor hiccups that can be ignored.
Characters and interpersonal drama
Each of the characters in the series is befitting. The interactions between them are well envisioned and realistic. There might be moments when the performances might feel a little over the top and theatrical, but the good news is that the major characters remain mostly grounded. The few moments when they go overboard can be justified as we can suspend our disbelief with the simple reason of different people reacting to similar circumstances differently. After the first few episodes, the characters get into a good rhythm and keep getting better and better with every successive episode.
Surjyasikha Das as Pragya and Swagata Bharali as Rubina were my favorites. They had the right vibe and attitude for their respective characters and remained on point throughout. Swagata Bharali had a nice little arc that I enjoyed thoroughly. Dhananjaya Debnath as a corrupt cop, Sunil was uproarious. His essay might have been a little over-the-top, but he was amusing in his own way. Akshit Goswami plays an interesting character that I have to applaud but will refrain from spoiling by speaking of its traits and qualities.
The cinematography by Prayash Sharma Tamuly, Nagen Baishya, and Suruj Deka is in keeping with the mood and feel of the series. For a temperamental series of this nature to have the desired impact on the viewers, it had to have visuals that complemented the mood and feel of the story. That is something that the three cinematographers achieve successfully. The visual presentation of the series never feels like a product of three different sensibilities. Instead, it portrays a common and harmonious representation of the drama unfolding in the story giving the viewers the best vantage point. The arial photography by Prayash Sharma Tamuly is laudable.
Even though the story culminates on a cliff-hanger, it doesn’t disappoint. It has been the case for many series and films to start well and then lose steam eventually boiling down to a less than satisfactory climax. That is not the case with this series, and it remains at a similar level of interest and intrigue that got the audiences hooked on the story initially. While I hate cliff-hanger endings, I would not mind tuning into the next season of the series as it had my attention throughout.
Having said all that, the series does have its share of shortcomings.
The directors should have definitely pitched in to rectify many flaws in the performances by the majority of the cast members. They had to marshal their forces better and made them acknowledge the serious nature of the content and act accordingly shunning their unnecessary theatricalities. While these flaws may seem minor, these are what separate a good series from a great one.
The technicalities go for a toss on numerous occasions, and it was something that grabbed my attention and took me out of the experience. While these things cannot undermine the quality of a good story, screenplay, and performances, it does have the power to make you feel that you are not in a real-world and that can be a let-down for many.
The story though interesting had a lot of unanswered questions and some elements that were just too much to fathom. A few rewrites could have easily solved the problem. I also feel that it needed to provide proper justifications for a lot of things and had to get rid of a few unnecessary elements.
There is no physicality in the few action sequences that are there. These sequences should have been better executed or shunned completely.
All said and done, I feel that the series is definitely a step in the right direction and should definitely be given a chance. It isn’t easy to tackle a diverse and expansive subject like this and to execute it in a way that holds on to the audience even with all the technicalities and problems that come with tackling a story that is centred on technology and problems arising out of it. Trojan is made in a way that doesn’t dilute the serious nature of the content but at the same time skilfully keeps the proceedings intelligible for the most uninformed of audiences. For that, we need to applaud the writers and directors. I am confident that this series will both entertain and inform anyone who walks into it with an open mind and is ready to forgive some of its flaws.
Rating: 3/5 (3 out of 5 Stars)
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