OTT platforms have revolutionised many aspects of the multimedia industry, but their presence is mostly felt in the thriller genre. Thriller series like 'Kaiser,' 'Shaaticup,' or 'Taqdeer' have become part of our pop culture, and there are more to come. Another thriller series that has recently created much hype is 'Karagar,' which is getting praised by the Indian audience as well.
There is something about thrillers that keeps us glued to the screen for hours and makes us put on an all-nighter. What is it? What makes thriller series so addictive? The easiest way to get to the bottom would be scrutinising the recent three blockbusters.
By virtue of the genre, thrillers take the audience on a journey where certain parts of our brain are stimulated, and multiple emotions are triggered. One of the reasons is our mundane and lacklustre lives, void of any excitement and challenges.
We are used to certain patterns and routines in our lives. So when we come across a crime thriller where the antagonist's actions disrupt this monotony, the natural empathy in our minds flares up, and we are engrossed in the story - who did it, and why did they do it? The backstory of the victim further helps this scenario.
Take 'Taqdeer,' the story of a freezer van driver who used to transport the bodies of the dead. He gets tangled into a mystery when the body of a renowned female journalist, who was on the trail of exposing the rape of a woman by men associated with a politician, is found in his van. Now he has to get out of this mess.
The audience can feel the man's plight and the gravity of the situation; and get connected to the protagonist's urgent, busy performance, full of rash talk and small movements, seemingly more to do with the problem at hand but alluding to unknown depths.
When the plot takes up its pace through the protagonist's journey, the audience becomes part of his journey. The tension when the antagonist does something scary or any setback occurs; or the relief and exhilaration when the protagonist overcomes obstacles and march towards his goal, the audience experience emotions like excitement, anxiety, curiosity, sadness, happiness, nervousness and sympathy that take them on a journey in which they are hooked on to the side-plots and overall narrative.
A good thriller always makes the audience part of its storyline. Coupled with well-written characters the audience can relate to and empathise with, they are even more involved with the story.
In 'Shaaticup,' two teen drug peddlers have stolen a drug consignment and are trying to sell it with the local drug lord and the crooked anti-narcotics department hot on their trail. They are not the ideal protagonists to root for, nor are their motives noble.
However, throughout the series, the audience feels like they are the ones running and hiding and bike-racing with the teens; they, too, are on the narrow streets of Rajshahi or the desolate chars on the Padma. The teens become a part of us, providing us with a sneak peek at the hidden underworld lurking beneath us, and the series's greatness lies in its suspension of such disbelief.
Finally, the main reason people love watching thrillers - unexpected plot twists and contrasting conflicts. In no other genre we get to experience such grand conflicts. And a good thriller always makes sure that the final showdown between the protagonist and the antagonist at the climax feels breathtaking and gripping.
The plot reveals surprises and twists, the storyline can take a turn, all equations can fall apart, characters can turn into foes from friends - and all it needs is one moment. This gripping feeling stimulates the audience, keeping them at the edge.
Take 'Kaiser', for example. The writer has kept the audience engaged with smart dialogues and intriguing twists. He builds up plot points and throws around clues, which the audience knowingly or unknowingly register in their brains, decoding things in their manner. It's like solving a puzzle in the head. And the climax is an absolute brain blotch, which nobody expected, and there lies the true beauty of this genre. It surprises the audience and makes them cheer for the protagonist.
Bangladeshi audiences have long been deprived of good authentic Bangladeshi thriller series, and their thirst used to be quenched by foreign series. However, over the last few years, the OTT platforms are creating an environment where local thriller writers can tell their local stories. This positive trend should continue in the coming days.