The OTT wave has certainly changed the way regional films get made – especially in the Indian subcontinent.

Bangladeshi-Australian filmmaker Zayed Rizwan seems to be at the forefront of this trend. Fresh off the heels of two 2021 productions, his 5-episode web series Aghaat stirred up quite the sensation since September, bagging a Best TV/Web Series award at the 2021 Cannes World Film Festival.

Set against the backdrop of an Islamic State threat in Sydney, Aghaat is a standard intelligence-agency thriller with plenty of twists and interpersonal drama. It also features some pretty stunning locations alongside the east coast of Australia – from the pristine Garrie Beach and famous Sydney Opera House.

The cast is a mix of East Indian and Bangladeshi actors – starring Irfan Sajjad, Bipasha Kabit, Deepali Tania, and Ranojoy Bishnu.

Apart from the Cannes WFF award, Aghaat also snagged honors at the Vegas Movie Awards, the London Independent Film Awards, and made it to the New York International Film Awards finals.

Aghaat has also become something of a sleeper hit across North America’s festival circuit. Along with the Cannes win, it was featured at the Hollywood International Golden Age Festival and the Montreal Independent Film Festival.


Pushing The Boundaries Of Regional Cinema

Part of Aghaat’s critical success comes with the unique perspectives it offers to the genre of action films. We’ve rarely, if ever, seen a terrorist plot unfold from entirely Bangla viewpoints, especially from the eyes of Muslim characters.

This takes effect in various ways through writer Tahsan Shuvo’s script. There’s an inherent conflict between Islamic State terrorism and Muslim identity throughout the series. Take Irfan Sajjad’s character for instance – an IT expert that faces religious prejudice through his character arc, while surrounded by religious extremists.

With a pretty effective starting run, it’s fair to say that director Zayed Rizwan is pretty optimistic.

“I am honored by the worldwide critical and popular acclaim the series has earned. Receiving these awards has been the most heartening moment and motivation for me to become a better director,” he shares. “We hope to finalize the (second season) budget soon, which is going to be bigger than the first season.”

Aghaat has been released on DishTV’s new OTT platform, Watcho.