The rise of Bangladeshi online streaming content and the tales of ‘Mohanagar’

The availability of high-speed internet via 4G on mobile phones and broadband at home has enabled millions of consumers in South Asia to access the internet seamlessly. This has resulted in a notable surge in online streaming services, also known as Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms, particularly in India and Bangladesh. As a result, traditional cable and satellite TV networks are seeing a decline in their viewership as more and more people switch to streaming services.

During the 2010s, the cinema industry in Bangladesh took a significant hit, partly because limited quality content was being produced and partly because many movie theatres were closing down. However, since the onset of the pandemic, the country has witnessed a resurgence of long-form and short-form content, primarily due to the proliferation of OTT platforms. These Bangla language programs are not only popular within Bangladesh but are also well-received in the Indian state of West Bengal, where people share the same language and similar culture.

One instance of a show that has taken off in Bangladesh is the second season of the Bangladeshi web series “Mahangar” streamed from the Indian OTT platform HoiChoi.

The rise of Bangla content

In recent years, Bangladeshi content creators have produced some amazing Bangla OTT content that has received positive responses from both Bangladesh and Indian audiences. And a lot more are coming.

A film house that produced popular Bangla web series like “Kaiser”, “Karagar”, “Unoloukik”, and “Taqdeer” in the past few years announced in March 2023 that they will be commencing production of seven new web series and five feature films. In Bangladesh, OTT platforms such as Bongo, Bioscope, Chorki, Banglafix, Binge, Cinespot, etc., have partnered with local cellphone providers to offer discounted data plans to the ever-growing internet data subscribers in this country of 166 million people. Furthermore, Indian Bangla language platforms like HoiChoi, AddaTimes, and Zee5 are also gaining popularity in Bangladesh.

These popular OTT productions are well-funded, diverse in content, and made with care. Their strengths lie in their unique stories, talented casts, powerful performances, and international-quality production standards.

According to a 2022 study by educator S. M. Imran Hossain of the University of Dhaka, most Bangladeshi subscribers consider OTT platforms their primary source of entertainment, and their preferred content is Bangla films and web series. The future of the OTT market looks bright as there is a growing number of subscribers — corresponding to the rise in internet quality.

Director Ashfaq Nipun’s web series “Mahanagar” (which means “metropolis”) has recently released its second season on April 20, 2023, on the Indian OTT platform, Hoichoi. The show features acclaimed actor Mosharraf Karim in the lead role of OC Harun, alongside other talented actors and actresses. The crime thriller, which offers nuanced socio-political commentary, has created a buzz since its release.

The first season was launched in 2021, and the teaser stated:

Dhaka Mohanagar (metropolis). Where the streets, lanes and by-lanes have a million stories to tell. Stories about the oppressors, stories about the oppressed, stories about the rise to power, stories about being defeated by the powerful. In this city, millions are crushed under the system every day.

Throughout the first season of episodes, viewers witness the events of one night and how the lead character, Police Officer-in-Charge (OC) Harun, navigates the worlds of the powerful and powerless through various crime investigations. While he was implicated in a corruption case, he maintained his moral compass and championed the oppressed against those in positions of influence, endearing him to audiences as a hero.

The second season, also covering another day full of events, has captured people’s attention due to its depiction of the harsh reality in Bangladesh. The story subtly depicted taboo topics such as political power struggles, surveillance, enforced disappearance, extrajudicial killings by special forces and many more. The season opens with the protagonist, police Officer Harun, being abducted and interrogated by a special forces unit because he stood up against a powerful adversary.

Journalist Muktadir Rashid Romeo tweeted:

In August 2022, there was an expose by Sweden-based independent news portal Netra News about a secret detention and torture centre run by Bangladeshi special forces. The Bangladesh government dismissed the report as false and fabricated. It should be noted that local news agencies often refrain from reporting on such news related to government forces due to self-censorship or fear of repercussions under the draconian Digital Security Act 2018. When OC Harun was abducted and taken to an unknown detention centre blindfolded, it was reminiscent of this report. This is just one of many examples of the bold nature of stories in that web series.

Exiled journalist Ashif Entaz Rabi wrote on Facebook about the story of the web series:

Translation Original Quote

In the second season of the Mohanagar web series, Ashfaq Nipun illustrates the gradual shift of the authority toward authoritarianism based on recent events in Bangladesh. The story is not inspired by any South Indian or Hollywood thriller; rather, it features fully desi ingredients that are 100 percent authentic and organic.

Journalist Sourav Deb discusses art becoming much more than art:

Translation Original Quote

Art can often hold the most relevance and potency when it reflects the peculiarities of the current time. Mahanagar 2 is a prime example of this, as it offers an incredibly impactful form of entertainment that provokes contemplation on various issues.

Journalist Ahammad Foyez points out the similarities the story depicts:

Translation Original Quote

What is missing in the story of Mohanagar-2? It encompasses a plethora of themes, ranging from dirty politics and midnight voting to the crimes of powerful gold traders, activities in the diplomatic neighbourhood, the first female mayor, the alleged arms recovery operation by police, crossfire [extra-judicial killings], the mysterious disappearance of a businessman named Bulbul, and even the complexities of sibling love.

Writer and editor Bidhan Rebeiro appreciated the details portrayed in Mahangar -2:

Translation Original Quote

The buzz around Mahanagar-2 isn't about its production quality, but rather its contemporaneity. The second season is filled with remarkable details. [..] Additionally, the show's title song and visuals are noteworthy, featuring posters with slogans like “Death to the Dictatorship” and “Free Democracy” [ editor's note: popular slogans during the anti-dictatorship movement in 1990].

Blogger Dewan Tanvir Ahmed Srijon lauds the courage of the director:

Translation Original Quote

Certainly, “Mahanagar 2” is a courageous and audacious creation by Ashfaq Nipun, in which he fearlessly exposes the numerous inconsistencies and flaws within our social and political systems. With boundless courage, he reveals the truth for what it is, a trait that few possess in today's world.

The surprising conclusion of the second season has sparked discussions among the viewers about the possibility of a third season of Mahanagar.

Source: Global Voices

Ludhiana gas leak: ‘I found my brother lying on the road’

Family members of the victims of a toxic gas leak in the northern Indian state of Punjab are reeling from their loss.

The leak occurred on Sunday morning in the city of Ludhiana, leaving 11 people dead and four in hospital. The area was sealed off and residents were evacuated after many people reported breathing difficulties.

The cause of the leak has not been officially confirmed yet but reports say that high levels of hydrogen sulphide gas were detected in the area. A district official had said on Sunday that a chemical may have reacted with methane in manholes to produce the deadly vapour.

A team from the National Disaster Response Fund is investigating the source of the gas leakage.

"My cousin's entire family was killed," says Kapil Kumar, who lived in the neighbourhood where the leak took place. "There were five people living in the house. Now there is no one left."

Reports say the area was densely populated and also had several shops - a cold drink store, a grocery store and a medical clinic - visited by many people.

Kapil Kumar's cousin Bilas Kumar lived near the grocery store. Bilas Kumar, his wife Varsa Devi, and their three children all died due to gas inhalation, he says.

When the smell of the gas began to spread early on Sunday morning, residents stepped outside their houses to check where it was coming from.

"I thought it had rained yesterday, so the smell was related to that. But then the stench increased," says Shivam Singh, a resident. "I looked outside and saw that people had fallen to the ground. The smell of the gas was very strong. A cat had also died [on the street]."

Mr Singh's video, which showed several people lying unconscious on the road, was widely shared on social media. "It is an area with factories, so there is a crowd here every day. But there were fewer people yesterday because it was a Sunday."

Arvind Chaubey, who had stepped out in the morning to play cricket, says he covered his face with a cloth when he suspected there had been a gas leak and moved away from the area.

"I moved a little further away and called the police and the ambulance," he said.

Many people around him were struggling to breathe because of the gas, he says.

Ajay Gupta, who lives in Jalandhar city, says that his sister Preeti had called him at 6.30am on Sunday to wish him on his wedding anniversary. "An hour later, I got a phone call about her death," he says.

"My brother-in-law had a milk and grocery business," Mr Gupta says. "They all ran outside when the gas leaked."

His sister's husband and mother-in-law also died.

Ashwani Kumar says he rushed to the spot after a neighbour called him.

"My brother Navneet Kumar and sister-in-law Neetu Devi were lying on the road [when I got there]," he says. "Both died but their 17-year-old daughter and one of my brothers survived."

His surviving brother is still being treated at the hospital.

The Punjab government has announced a compensation of 200,000 rupees ($2,445; £1,945.6) to the relatives of the victims and 50,000 rupees to the injured.

But a distraught Mr Gupta says that the compensation "does not matter".

"My family is gone," he says.

Source: BBC

Mental health becoming sensitive due to stigmatization: Vice President

Vice President Ram Sahaya Prasad Yadav has said that people with mental health issues are being stigmatized and thus leading to the problem.

At the 20th anniversary program of Centre for Mental Health and Counseling-Nepal today, he said that the problem is becoming more sensitive due to the stereotype against people with mental health problems. As the Constitution of Nepal establishes basic health as a fundamental right, the cooperation of the non-governmental sector is necessary in the government's plan to fulfill it.

Also speaking at the program, Deputy Speaker Indira Rana pointed out the need for the government and development partners to work together on an important sector like mental health. "The government and the non-governmental sector should work together in the field of mental health. It is also important for the government to pay attention to the mental health of people living in prisons," she said.

Secretary at the Ministry of Health and Population, Dr Roshan Pokharel, said that the government will continue to prioritize mental health and stressed on implementation of the mental health strategy to spread awareness and remove misconceptions.

Technical Director of the Center, Dr Pashupati Mahat, said that the CMC was working together with the government in providing mental health services. The center has been working in the mental health sector since 2003 and has so far worked in 206 local levels in 51 districts of the country.

Source: National News Agency Nepal

Agreement reached between govt. and Chair Pun

An agreement has been reached between the government and Chairperson of National Innovation Centre, Mahabir Pun, today. Pun had been staging a sit-in putting forth various demands before the government.

As per the agreement, the government would establish a fund to operate activities related to research, development, innovation and invention in an integrated manner and the fund would invest in research, development and innovation related activities.

Similarly, a bill to manage and operate the Fund will be tabled and passed in the coming session of the Federal Parliament and a draft of the bill would be prepared within next 60 days with the consultation of the stakeholders, according to Deputy Prime Minister Purna Bahadur Khadka's Secretariat.

Likewise, an understanding was reached to deposit one per cent amount of the capital budget of the federal government in the Fund from next fiscal year, making necessary policy-level, legal and organisational arrangement to promote research, development, innovation and invention, to facilitate by reforming the laws related with the issues including providing necessary permission, license, registration, operation and for the goods and services produced from invention.

DPM Khadka on the behalf of the government and Chairperson Pun signed the agreement.

Source: National News Agency Nepal

21 burnt in Gazipur factory gas line explosion

Twenty one workers were sustained burn injuries in an explosion caused by gas line leakage at Cotton BD factory of Mandal Group in Kashimpur Dakkhin Jorun area in Gazipur city of today.

According to police, locals and Fire Service, the fire broke out at the factory at about 8am due to gas line leakage exploded and caught fire, Kashimpur DBL Fire Service Inspector Mirazul Islam said.

Twenty-one workers were injured in the explosion and they were admitted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital and Sheikh Hasina Burn and Plastic Surgery Institute, he said.

The factory authorities able to bring the blaze under their control with their own management system, he added.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

Co-husband documentary bags awards in Japan and Canada

'Co-husband', a documentary about fraternal polyandry system in Nepal, has clinched awards in Japan and Canada simultaneously.

The documentary directed by Ganesh Pandey received bronze award carrying a purse of USD 1,000 in the 5th Meihodo International Youth Visual Media Festival held at Kyushu in Japan.

There were altogether 3,533 submissions from 122 countries in the Festival.

Director Pandey also received USD 100,000 under the Film Funding title in the same film festival. He is supposed to spend the amount for his next documentary project.

Similarly, the 35-minute long documentary got best award in the Gateway International Film Festival organized in Ontario in Canada, informed director Pandey.

"It is a matter of pride that a Nepali documentary won such a huge cash prize. It is not only a matter of happiness for me but also for the Nepal and all Nepalis," remarked Pandey.

Pandey had spent around two months in Humla district to shoot the documentary. "The award has given a sense of reward and recognition for spending tough two months in Humla while making the documentary," he gushed.

Source: National News Agency Nepal

Mosaddek’s all-round show leads Abahani to victory against old foes

Captain Mosaddek Hossain Saikat came up with sterling all-round performance as Abahani Limited edged traditional rivals Mohammedan Sporting Club past by 8 runs in their first match in the Super League phase of Dhaka Premier League (DPL) at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium today.

Having won the game, Abahani took solo lead in the point table with 22 points. Defending champions Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club squandered the chance to retain the top spot after suffering a 7-wicket defeat to Gazi Group Cricketers.

In the day's other match, Prime Bank Cricket Club thrashed Legends of Rupganj by 173 runs. Meanwhile in the first match of the relegation league, Agrani Bank beat Dhaka Leopards by one wicket in a thrilling match at BKSP-4 ground today.

Abahani vs Mohammedan

Opting to bat first, Abahani recovered from an early trouble to post a challenging 258-7 with captain Mosaddek Hossain leading from the front with 63. Mohammedan were restricted to 250-9 despite a valiant 88 from Mahdiul Islam Anakan.

This was Mohammedan's first defeat after a six-match winning run in the group phase. But they seemed to go back to their old form after Shakib and other national players left the side for national commitment.

They had the chance to dominate Abahani when they reduced the old foes to 43-3, taking the wicket of inform Naim Sheikh, Anamul Haque Bijoy and Mahmudul Hasan Joy.

Jaker Ali Anik first came up with resistance and added 75-run with Afif Hossain who made 36 runs. Anik then shared another 49-run with Mosaddek before being out for 63 runs.

Mosaddek who struck three fours and as many sixes for his 70 ball-knock then guided the lower order astutely to help Abahani propel past 250-run mark. Khushdil Shah was the other notable scorer with 29.

Mushfik Hasan and Shuvagata Hom took two wickets apiece for Mohammedan which lost first three wickets for 12 runs. Ankan and veteran Mahmudullah Riyad who made 54 then resisted but Abahani bowlers, led by captain Mosaddek made regular intervals to help the side win the game. Mosaddek ended with 4-54 while Tanzim Hasan Sakib grabbed 3-48.

Prime Bank vs Legends of Rupganj

Zakir Hasan and Shahadat Hossain Dipu hit a century as Prime Bank Cricket Club got off to a winning start in the DPL Super League phase with a mammoth 173-run victory over Legends of Rupganj at BKSP-3 ground.

Zakir hit run-a-ball-106 with 13 boundaries in his first match in competitive cricket after recovering from the injury, which ruled him out of the home ODI series against Ireland in March.

His fellow opener Shahadat Hossain Dipu however struck 104 off 119 with 10 fours. Thanks to their century, Prime Bank, who was sent to bat first, compiled a hefty 330-6.

After Zakir and Dipu set the platform with 222-run for the opening stand, Al Amin Junior utilized it with a 27 ball-56.

Rupganj's Chirga Jani was the peak of the bowler for his side with 3-39 while Abdul Halim took 2-72. Captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza remained wicket-less after giving away 67 runs in his 9 overs.

Rupganj however was bowled out for 157 in 38.3 overs to taste the big defeat. Chirag Jani also was their top-scorer with 38 while Ashik Ul Alam made 36.

Mahedi Hasan, Rubel Hossin and Nasir Hossain picked up two wickets apiece for Prime Bank.

Sheikh Jamal vs Gazi Group

Medium pacer Jaynul Islam claimed 4-23 as Gazi Group Cricketers pulled off an upset, securing a seven-wicket win over defending Champions Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club in their first game of the DPL Super League phase at Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium.

Put into bat first, Sheikh Jamal, who finished the group phase, being on top of the point table, was bowled out for meager 89 in 33.2 overs as a little known Jaynul ripped through their batting line up in a gem of swing bowling display.

He was ably supported by left-arm spinner Tipu Sultan who snapped up 3-21 to further blow the mighty Jamal batting line up.

Opener Saif Hasan top-scored for the side with 22 while Fazle Mahmud made 20.

Gazi Group reached 92-3 in just 15.5 overs to record the victory in emphatic fashion with opener Mehedi Marud leading the charge with 45 off 55. He smote eight boundaries in his knock.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

Rain likely

Bangladesh Meteorology Department (BMD) today predicted rain or thundershowers in different areas of the country in the next 24 hours commencing 9am today.

"Rain or thunder showers accompanied by temporary gusty wind is likely to occur at a few places over Rajshahi, Rangpur, Dhaka, Mymensingh and Sylhet divisions and at one or two places over Khulna, Barishal and Chattogram divisions with hails at isolated places," said a Met Office press release.

"Mild heat wave is sweeping over the districts of Chattogram, Rangamati, Feni and Bandarban and it may abate from some places," it also said.

Day and night temperature may remain nearly unchanged over the country.

Country's maximum temperature on Sunday was recorded 38 degrees Celsius at Bandarban and today's minimum temperature 20.1 degrees Celsius was recorded at Rajhshahi.

The sun sets at 6.27pm today and rises at 5.24 am tomorrow in the capital.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

Chinese Ambassador Song says reconstruction of Nuwakot Durbar will begin soon

Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Chen Song has said that reconstruction of the quake-hit seven-storied Durbar of Nuwakot and other religious and archeological heritages in the nearby areas would be commenced soon.

In an onsite visit on Monday, the Chinese Ambassador committed to completing the reconstruction of the Durbar within a certain timeline stating that preparations are ongoing for the beginning of the task.

Chinese Ambassador Song gave assurances of time timely completion adding that the Government of China has gotten the responsibility to reconstruct eight religious, cultural and archeological structures along with the seven-storied Nuwakot Durbar which was damaged by the 2015 Gorkha Earthquake.

He said that the reconstruction work would begin soon though the date has not been confirmed yet citing some technical aspects and bilateral understanding.

On behalf of the Government of China, the Chinese Academy of Cultural Heritages is scheduled to reconstruct the heritages including Nuwakot Durbar, Tulaja Bhawani Temple, Garadghar, Rangamahal, Bishnu Temple, Narayan Temple and Lampati and Setopati Durbar at the premises of Bhairavi Temple.

Source: National News Agency Nepal

Party unity declaration assembly among four parties including Nagarik Unmukti

A party unity declaration assembly was organised here on Monday among Nagarik Unmukti Party, Sanghiya Loktantrik Rastriya Manch, Kochila Ekata Sangharsha Samaj and Nagarik Sasaktikaran ka lagi Jagaran Abhiyan.

Chairperson of Nagarik Unmukti Party and Minister for Land Management, Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation Ranjita Shrestha Chaudhary, Manch Chairperson Gyan Bahadur Gurung, Samaj's Coordinator Trinarayan Rajbanshi and Chairperson Dinesh Raj Rajbanshi and Binod Pandey of the Abhiyan signed the 10-point party unity agreement.

Inaugurating the party unity declaration assembly, Minister Chaudhary said Nagarik Unmukti Party was established against the suppression.

She stressed that they had to be united so that the incident that occurred in Tikapur of Sudurpaschim in the past is not repeated in other places of the country.

Minister Shrestha clarified that the party competed in the election and joined the government to release party leaders and to fulfill people's aspiration for development.

Similarly, Manch's Chairperson Gurung, Vice-Chair AB Pandak Limbu, Vice-Chair of Nagarik Unmukti Party Damodar Pandit, Chairperson of Sangharsha Samiti Chaudhary, among others laid emphasis that unity among those struggling for identity was needed to uplift the oppressed, backward and marginalized communities.

Source: National News Agency Nepal

Dangi picked as Whip of RSP Parliamentary Party

The Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP) has selected its lawmaker Nisha Dangi as the Parliamentary Party's Whip.

A Parliamentary Party meeting of the RSP selected Dangi as the Whip, RSP's Chief Whip Santosh Pariyar said. "A decision has been made to appoint Nisha Dangi as the whip," Pariyar said.

Likewise, today's meeting has named Rabi Lamichhane as the parliamentary party leader of the RSP.

Source: National News Agency Nepal

Renaming of Koshi Province unlikely, Chief Minister says

Chief Minister of Koshi Province Hikmat Kumar Karki has said that renaming of Koshi Province is not possible.

Speaking at the 21st general assembly of Madan Bhandari Memorial Foundation at Urlabari in Morang on Monday, the chief minister said that naming of Koshi Province was made from the voting of 91 per cent of total province assembly members by considering the diversities of the province.

Stating that the province government was criticized in the past five years for failing to give a name to this province, Karki added that the given name of the province was finalised with the consent from all political parties that formed the province government.

"The trend of attacks against UML is increasing lately. The Koshi Province Government is aware that no one has excuse to carry out violent movements," he added.

On the occasion, Karki argued that Koshi Province bears the identity of the greatest natural water resources of the country instead of a certain communities' identity. He was of the view that the province was named on the basis of natural resources.

Source: National News Agency Nepal