KOTA FACTORY (2019)

  • Release Date: 16/04/2019
  • Cast: Mayur More, Jitendra Kumar, Ranjan Raj, Revathi Pillai, Alam Khan, Urvi Singh, Ahsaas Channa, Ahsaas Channa               
  • Creator: Saurabh Khanna

“hum to Kota mein tab se hain jab Kota shahar hua karta tha factory nahin — autowala”

Kota Factory was released by The Viral Fever (TVF) almost a year back and has been available on YouTube ever since but I, somehow, never watched it. I had always heard great things about it but just never felt compelled to watch it. I was planning on watching Panchayat (also by TVF) in a day or two and without any reason whatsoever pressed play on an episode of Kota Factory today. The episode went by like a breath of fresh air and I found myself watching the next episode. Then the next and before I could realize, I had finished the whole series in one seating. I loved it so much that I immediately sat to re-watch it and this time even my mother joined in. She stepped in after the first episode and even after that, she was not only able to follow the proceedings perfectly, she quickly formed connections with the characters and the questions —that she asks when she is getting hooked to a particular content — started to land. It has been a while since something that is as low key as this series has forced me to stay back and finish it.

Vaibhav (Mayur More) arrives in the town of Kota to pursue his dreams of landing a seat in the elite IIT. For all those who do not know, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) is the premier engineering institute of the country, and Kota has the biggest infrastructure of predatory institutes for cracking the IIT entrance exam that is hailed as one of the toughest entrance exams in the country. Vaibhav wants to get enrolled in Maheshwari Institute that is regarded as the best Institute in Kota but is refused. He then enrolls at Prodigy, the second or third best institute, and begins his journey. His idea is to continue with Prodigy but only till he can make his way back to Maheshwari. Once in Prodigy, he meets, Meena (Ranjan Raj), Uday (Alam Khan), Vartika (Revathi Pillai), and the charismatic Jeetu Bhaiya (Jitendra Kumar) that changes his life for good.

Every episode of the series deals with a different issue in the life of Vaibhav. The 1st episode deals with him getting admitted to Prodigy, meeting the primary cast of characters, and turning rebel for a just cause. The 2nd episode has Vaibhav struggling for concentration, dealing with the saline water of Kota and food of the institute mess. He is also dealing with an acute case of constipation. The 3rd episode is about Inorganic chemistry and its effect on Vaibhav. The 4th episode sees Vaibhav and his friends all falling for different girls and the finale is all about Vaibhav forced to make some difficult decisions that will not only take away from him the relationships that he adores but will also pit him against a whole new system and people.

TVF started off as a YouTube channel and has grown leaps and bounds of the years. However, I was least expecting them to come up with a series so rooted in realism and yet so charismatic. This is a series that may be character-driven but will make you take notice of its visual flair and innovative making in every scene. This will easily be a lesson for all those who believe that capturing dialogue is generic and should be approached in the tried and tested manners. Every interaction between the characters, things as ordinary as people studying together, buying and drinking water, delivering a monologue, and classroom interactions are done with such care and freshness that you will be forced to take notice that something special is happening here.

 

The very first scene of the series wherein we zoom out of an advertisement video of a coaching institute to realize that the student’s world is black and white unlike what the Coaching institute wants him to believe is a masterstroke. I just loved the following scene which not only gives us a bird’s sight view of the whole topography in which the story is set to unfold but also gives us an idea of how far from his dream institute, Vaibhav is moving. This scene is inversely referenced again in the penultimate scene of the finale.

I do not have enough words to praise the performances of the series. Almost all the major cast members are first-timers and they all bring a kind of vitality to the characters that can only be expected from first-timers. My personal favorite was Ranjan Raj as Balmukund Meena, the mild-mannered Prodigy batch mate of Vaibhav who has some of the best lines in the series. He is not funny to be funny but is because he is. The first cracker of a line that he delivers is when he dares his landlady to be sweet after his parents have left. That line is funny and tragic in so many ways that I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry for him. That is just the beginning. The whole series is peppered with a little ‘Meena’ here and a little ‘Meena’ there and every time he comes on-screen, he lights up the proceedings. I could relate my “Chai Biskut” craze with his “Pyaz Kachori” fetish.

Mayur More as Vaibhav was the perfect choice for the character. He is a harmonious mix between suave, innocent, confused, naïve and a whole lot more and that was the key reason why his performance was so on point. He keeps bouncing from one frying pan onto another and every time his tone and mannerisms are pitch-perfect for the moment. The fact that he plays extremely well off the other actors only makes his essay that much more effective. Alam Khan as Uday is the most animated of the lot and for good reasons. He has been at Kota for a while but has achieved precious little. He knows that he is a failure, but he believes that if he sticks around a while longer, he might grab onto something. He is evidently in love with Shivangi but even she has been acting upon him. Putting all this together, he turns out to be one of the most endearing characters of the whole series.

Revathi Pillai as Vartika comes into the picture late but has a profound impact on the whole story. She is not only vibrant and vivacious but also a very strong character when it comes to what she wants from life. This characteristic of her comes in the way of how Vaibhav sees his life and leads to some interesting friction between the two. Jitendra Kumar as Jeetu Bhaiya is a charmer. He acts with his eyes and that is one of his fortes. He is exactly what the characters in the series believe him to be. The agony aunt for the students. Every time, the boys land up in trouble, they run to Jeetu Bhaiya and he never disappoints. He is the voice of reason in the series and Jitendra Kumar doesn’t disappoint. I just loved the dialogues between him and More. Urvi Singh and Ahsaas Channa are apt in their respective roles.

Kota Factory is more of an experience than a series. It is the kind of series that is an essential watch for everyone who has ever been in any kind of an institute. It is well made, has terrific performances, and sets out to tell a story that is bound to resonate with one and all of our generation. The Kota Factory is growing every year and it is in many ways bleeding out to some of the other states as well. The coaching institutes in Guwahati have also mushroomed like they never had before, and all this happened over the course of the last 10 years. I have seen it all unfold right Infront of my eyes. Having seen it all, I had still forgotten all about it, but Kota Factory made me remember and for that, I will always be thankful to Saurabh Khanna and the team.

It is also an efficiently done character study and walk down the lanes that every student in Kota walks through at some point in time. This is the kind of series that you can watch numerous times and find something new to appreciate every time. It is available on YouTube to watch for free. I urge you all to watch this series for sure. Watch it if it is the only thing that you are going to watch this month. Do yourselves a favor and take this ride with the autowala (Deepak Kumar Mishra) through Kota.

Rating: 4/5 (4 out of 5 Stars)       

 

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