It is 2004. The golden era of Bangladeshi drama serials is in ruins. The reign of Indian Drama serials has begun with full force. Almost the entirety of the housewife audience is spell-bounded by the exaggerated luxury portrayed in these shows.
Amid the chaos, the director-writer duo Mostofa Sarwar Farooki and Anisul Hoque gifts the industry with a beam of hope - 69, a coming-of-age family drama (do not be fooled by the funny number).
'69' is a 100-episode drama plotted around two families which illustrates the complexities of familial relationships in a joyful, humourous and, sometimes, heart wrenching way.
Four sisters - Disha, Dipa, Dithi and Diya - reside in Dhanmondi with their widowed father and two elder brothers - Dara and Durjoy. The family of seven own the building they live in, which is numbered 69.
69 has some really strong female characters in the lead. The women in the show are almost never shown to give in to the tantrums or abusive behaviour of the men surrounding them. They rebel, they resist and they take a stand for themselves.
Shahid, another widowed man with two children, is their downstairs tenant. The 'Bohubrihi-esque' atmosphere starts to fade away soon as the story progresses.
A unique bond of four sisters
In the first episode, Dithi (Nusrat Imrose Tisha), the third sister, is struggling to find a quiet room to study for her HSC exam. For a second you may start to question their dynamics as none of her sisters consider making some space for her to study in peace.
Fueled by anger, Dithi engages in a long fight with her immediate older sister Dipa (Srabosti Dutta Tinni). At this point, the audience may start to realize that this scene replicates the story of almost every sibling in our households.
It is quickly revealed that Dithi and Dipa are in a relationship with two the bachelors of Shahid's family - Ayon and Rafi.
Disha, beautifully played by Jaya Ahsan, does the job of an elder sister perfectly but her relationship choices deem unhealthy.
On the other hand, Diya, the youngest daughter of the family, is a pathological liar. Despite their varying dysfunctionalities, the bond these sisters share is portrayed exquisitely by Farooki.
Complex characters played by incredible actors
The casting unit of the show really outdid themselves by bringing all these gems under the same roof, literally and figuratively.
Tinni did an impeccable job as a debuting actor and played Dipa's mundane character remarkably.
Hasan Masud played the role of the elder brother, Dara - a self-conflicted man who has an undying admiration for Bengali music and lacks the confidence to marry the girl he likes.
Ahmed Rubel played the role of Durjoy excellently. This character is an antisocial, close-fisted person with obsessive compulsive disorder.
Personifying Shahid, Shahiduzzaman Selim stole the show every time he stuttered under emotional stress.
Fazlur Rahman Babu was captivating while playing Disha's university teacher and her relationship adviser. At the same time, he secretly likes her and drops the hint at every chance he gets.
Rumana Rashid Ishita appears in the later parts of the show as Nusrat, an intern psychologist. When she helps Dithi recover from a heartbreak, the comfort in her words definitely make your heart full.
Elora Gohor, Tania Ahmed and Ipshita Shabnam Srabanti also tagged along in the show. What's not to love here?
The beauty of the show
'69' portrays a seamless transition of the changing phases in a family as every member matures with time.
Disha's father is a perfect example of a permissive parent. He does not regulate his children's behavior. They may make some bad decisions but at least they hold the agency over their own lives to make their own choices.
The show has its own subtle ways of telling how acid victims should be normalized, how mental health problems need to be handled with care and how stepmothers are not always the evil personas our society made us believe.
The theme music of the show is eccentric. Anam Biswas was the musical director of '69', who is also known for the film 'Debi'.
Anam also played the role of Rafi - Dithi's love interest in the serial. Rafi is an aspiring musician and a playboy. When he plays 'Desire' by U2 on his guitar, you instantly know that he is a 'man of culture'.
'69' has some really strong female characters as the leads. The women in the show are almost never shown to give in to the tantrums or abusive behavior of the men surrounding them. They rebel, they resist and they take a stand for themselves.
While the men in the series are not perfect, neither are the women. And that is where the beauty resides, orchestrating the great symphony of life.
At times, '69' feels improvised (which it very likely is) and the rawness of the actors makes the show feel more genuine, more engaging and more relatable.
Stream '69' on Bioscope and take a moment to cherish the golden days we left behind.