Director duo Dhurva J Bordoloi and Himjyoti Talukdar on 'Trojan': the new Reeldrama series about Cybercrime

As our lives become increasingly dependent on digital technologies, it has also increased our security concerns and woes in a multitude of ways. From UPI payment scams to data theft to the invasion of privacy, people have sacrificed it on all grounds.

In the multimedia and digital age of a post-globalised world, cyber crimes have not only surged rapidly, but the targets have also invariably expanded regardless of their economic and social bases. From banks and multinational corporations to influential leaders to middle-class families to economically backward classes, this problem has spared none.

Using such ransomware and spyware attacks as the context, the director duo of Dhruva J Bordoloi and Himjyoti Talukdar have come up with a new web series titled Trojan, which premiered on the Assamese streaming platform Reeldrama on September 14. “It is a cyber crime drama which I believe is also the first-of-its-kind in Assam and is also inspired from a real-life story from the UK but contextualised in Assam,” says director Dhruva J Bordoloi.

“The series is based on a Nilbot virus attack targeted on a premier digital bank in Guwahati, which leads to a CID investigation where many secrets unfold,” continued the director, while introducing the storyline of this drama on the misdeeds and manipulation of technology.

Written by Sowrik Datta, the nine-episode series borrows some of its inspirations from Mr Robot and aims to create a pace and mood which makes foreign TV series like True Detective a winner. “Of course, being at the mercy of financial, infrastructural and logistical restraints, we cannot make a series on par with Mr Robot or True Detective. Trojan is intended to be a tasteful slow burner with a storyline more focused on character-driven drama rather than its technical front,” says Bordoloi.

Director Himjyoti Talukdar, also credited as a co-director in the series, notes, “It is extremely difficult to write a story about cyber hacking that is by nature very technical in terms. Further, I feel that the presentation of this cyber story on screen is an equally challenging task. Therefore, the emphasis has been on simplifying it for presentation so that it is understandable to the general public.”

“We have tried to maintain the fine balance between going overboard with the technicalities and spoon-feeding the information to the audiences through exposition. Therefore, it is the character dynamics and conflicts that take the centre stage in this drama,” says director Bordoloi.

Sharing a treatment note with EastMojo, director Bordoloi continues, “Unlike other crimes like murder, cybercrime is unique. The methods used to accomplish it are varied and sophisticated, which makes the investigation more complex. While the narrative attempts to identify the offender, the series doesn’t really have a high point or any action. There are no intense chase sequences for example. It is mostly people seated with computer systems doing what they do as the story progresses through conversations. So, the series is more of a character dynamics and conversation-based slow burner.”

Research is another important aspect that was given due importance in the writing of this series. “We took the help of Guwahati-based ethical hacker Ivan who helped us with the technicalities. Also, Debajit Hazarika, who plays the role of Deputy Inspector General of Police in the series, is a part of the CID in real life. So his inputs have also helped us with the investigation and procedural aspects of the series,” he adds.

Speaking about the shift from big screen storytelling to the small screen and long format experience, director Dhruva J Bordoloi, who had previously expressed himself in theatrical releases like Duronir Nirola Poja (2017) and Kokaideu Bindaas (2019), says, “It is a real challenge to hold the audience’s attention for two hours in a feature film. So, the responsibility doubles in the case of a multi-episode web series. I, therefore, concentrated on keeping consistency and continuity throughout the episodes, while making the best use of the available resources. Once they have watched one or two episodes, the audiences would be hooked.”

Sharing a similar line of thought, Himjyoti Talukdar, who debuted with the much-loved Assamese theatrical release Calendar (2018), shares, “Making a web series is, in my opinion as a filmmaker, a little more difficult than making a feature film. In comparison to Calendar, Trojan was a more complicated and difficult undertaking. Numerous problems, including those relating to the finances and technical constraints, have necessitated several creative adjustments in the project.” 

Speaking about his compatibility of working on the same project with another director, he says, “The majority of the series has been directed by Dhruva. There are two parallel stories, with Dhruva directing the larger one and me directing a smaller portion of it. The two stories eventually cross paths. As a result, collaboration has been easy in this aspect. Both Dhruva and I have directed our respective portions of the story in our own distinct styles.”

“It has always been the case that new technology comes with its fair share of drawbacks. As unethical practices evolve, digital technology has also brought along with it a certain amount of distress. The lack of awareness among people is the most critical element in this situation. If technology is moving forward, the world should also advance by acquiring digital literacy. Although we can’t yet predict how well our show can raise awareness, it will definitely push viewers to think in this regard,” says director Dhurva J Bordoloi who has also helmed the editing, colour grading and VFX work of the series.

“OTT is completely a new platform for us. We owe a debt of gratitude to Reeldrama for giving the Assamese entertainment sector a fresh lease of life by producing and hosting a variety of content in the regional language. And we sincerely look forward to the success of our series,” shares Himjyoti Talukdar.

Trojan is shot by Prayash Sharma Tamuly, Nagen Baishya and Suruj Deka, and the cast includes some new and popular faces – Surjyasikha Das, Sanjib Sharma, Dhananjay Debnath, Swagata Bharali, Dr Jayanta Das, Debajit Mazumdar, Mintu Baruah, Jolly Laskar, Akshit Goswami, Padmaraag Goswami, Aparna Dutta Choudhury, Pran Krishna Mahanta, Ashim Krishna Baruah, Atanu Manahta, Samarjyoti Sarkar, Uddipana Choudhury, Siddharth Boro, Niranjan Nath and Kuldeep Saharia.

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