Watching TVF’s marquee shows on the lives of engineering students is a singularly depressing affair.
Not because the poor kids portrayed in those shows evoke feelings of pity and compassion for their dreary, colourless existence, plummeting you into the spiralling depths of depression. Nope, that is not so. The pity and sympathy is all directed inwards, my friends. And that’s what’s hurls you into a state of perpetual depression. For a life less lived – yours.
These kids seem to occupy a parallel universe, one you know nothing about, with a distinctive rulebook to live life by. Even a peek into this multifarious universe, courtesy aforementioned TVF shows, seems like bliss for starved souls bereft of colour and meaning.
For, the memories, the antics, the colourful experiences, the unforgettable moments – the life of an engineering student seems to be crammed to the brim with them. It is ample cause to make you realize that you haven’t lived life at all. You – the product of a staid city commerce/science/arts college, and even a hoity-toity MBA institute – you haven’t really experienced what college life is really like.
You haven’t made any memories (at least not worthy enough to write web series about), haven’t notched up any fascinating experiences (that you can recount to your kids – yes, we’re hinting at Chhichhore), and you haven’t made any friends for life, with unique names like Sexa and Dopa and Jhantoo – the latter two are from Hostel Daze, TVF’s latest and yet another web series on the life of an engineering student. Sigh, are we suffering from some major FOMO and YOLO blues!
If you think that the engineering stream is a direct ticket to a dull, drab life full of slogging over books and notes and lifeless equipment, you only need to watch TVF’s various web series to know what it really means to be a student of engineering. Watching the lives of these engineering kids on screen –whether in glorious technicolour, as in Flames, Engineering Girls and Bachelors, or in stark black and white, as in Kota Factory; whether in the IIT prep stage, as in Flames and Kota Factory, or in the after-studies stage, as in Pitchers or Bachelors – just watching them on screen is enough to make you realize that you haven’t lived life at all.
That most of the big cheese at TVF are products of the IITs gives them a seemingly bottomless source of anecdotes, escapades and exploits from their own lives living in the rundown IIT hostels amidst other kids with raging testosterone and runaway hormones. And those anecdotes and exploits become grist for their most popular web series.
Hostel Daze, the latest in TVF’s line-up of youth-centric, relatable and realistic shows, depicts life
after an aspiring engineering student gets into an engineering college. If Kota Factory painted a stunningly realistic vignette of the life of an IIT hopeful in Kota, the Mecca of IIT preps, Hostel Daze goes a step ahead to show what goes on inside the boys’ hostels of engineering colleges.
Hormonal youngsters starved for female company (engineering colleges are especially notorious for having a poor male-female ratio); the lust for good porn; relentless and innovative ragging of newcomers; the last-minute scramble for notes and cramming for the end sem, with several all-nighters thrown into the mix – each facet that is unique to an engineering college hostel, and only an engineering college hostel. The writers Saurabh Khanna and director Raghav Subbu have created a fascinating college-verse, which is populated by uniquely hilarious characters.
There’s Jhantoo, aka Jatin (Nikhil Vijay), who’s finally made it to engineering college after four yearsof giving entrance tests and re-tests, and is thus the boss of the juniors’ hostel; Jaat, aka Rupesh Bhati (popular YouTuber, Shubham Gaur), the Haryanvi guy who’s made it to engineering college because of the hefty donation paid by his dad; Chirag (Luv), a pot-bellied, man-boobed shy guy
who’s the smartest of the lot, coz, as he says, he’s passed the entrances from Kota; and finally, Ankit (Adarsh Gourav), a mediocre guy, who’s itching to become a somebody from a nobody in the college hostel.
The foursome lives together in the hostel, sharing two rooms – Jhantoo enjoys a room to himself, while the other three have to make do with one room and one bed to themselves.
Each character has particular traits and nuances that endear them to viewers. Jaat is the typical loud, bombastic Haryanvi Jat. His father runs a dairy business, with a livestock mating business on the side. He hilariously calls it “gaay aur bail ko maithoon karana”, ewww, sounds gross in Hindi, ain’t it?
He is the practical one in the bunch of four. Jhantoo smokes, drinks, watches porn and generally behaves like their senior, but even he has to bow to the whims of the seniors.
Luv is the enterprising and genius one of the lot. In a hilarious scene, he videotapes the maths professor (played by writer Saurabh Khanna himself) and distributes the recordings as ‘Wikilectures’, a not-for-profit venture for the benefit of other students. His venture, of course, makes him famous and popular amongst the kids.
Only Ankit remains in the shadow of anonymity, until one fine day, his real talent comes to the fore. He has an eye for collecting and collating the best porn on campus, thus earning the sobriquet of DOPA from the seniors – Director of Pondy (slang for pornography) Affairs – and the respect of the entire populace.
The five episodes of the series each touch upon unique shenanigans that take place in an engineering hostel – the hilarious ragging, crushes on the few pretty girls in the shamefully low female population, last-minute cramming, and a lot more. An entire episode is devoted to GPL (Ga**d pe laat) – that is the birthday bumps, kicks and ‘Hawaii chappal’ hits on the bottom of every poor birthday boy. Lolly has to bear the brunt of GPL in the episode. He’s played by the terrific Ranjan Raj, the guy who played Meena in Kota Factory. In another, Ankit develops a crush on the prettiest girl of the batch, Akanksha (Ahsaas Channa), even as Jaat doubts Akanksha’s motivations in being overly friendly with Ankit.
The writing is the star of the show. Funny dialogues, hilarious double entendre (the ‘bade vichaar’ one was uproarious) and sparkling humour make the series eminently watchable. Cameos by TVF regulars, Jasmeet Singh Bhatia, Nidhi Bisht, Biswapati Sarkar, Sameer Saxena (executive producer and TVF head of content), some of whom also act as narrators for the various episodes, add an
element of fun and familiarity to the proceedings.
If there’s something missing in the show, it is the profoundness and depth of meaning that is usually found in TVF shows. There are a few moments of sudden epiphany in the show that appear out of nowhere and hit you smack in the face. The scene where Ankit describes the fear of anonymity and not making an identity or memories in the hostel hits home. Likewise, the last episode drives home the point that hostel living prepares you to face the pressures of life. But yes, that’s about it, as far as depth goes.
Nevertheless, the series stays with you long after you’ve finished watching it, seeping through your conscience, unbeknownst to you, and creating a pool of longing for the engineering life. The line-“what is hostel life if you don’t make memories”, hits you hard, very hard.
Viewers who’ve lived the engineering life will find the entire show so relatable that they’ll be swamped by a bad case of nostalgia and longing for the good ol’ days. And oh yes, moms watching the show may feel a frisson of fear at the thought of their precious sons going through the horrors (or so they may think) of living in an engineering hostel – the ragging, the GPL (it does happen), the fascination with porn and jerking off. We have just one note for them – mommies, you’ll send in a boy, and you’ll get back a man. Hell yeah!
In the meanwhile, 3/5 is our rating for Hostel Daze.