"Amar naam Bondhu, ar haater moyla holo amar shotru/ami tomar Bondhi, kintu haath na dhuile tumi amar shotru."
These are the few lines that puppet Bondhu raps in "Bichhuz Episode 1". Bichhuz is a web-series directed by Nuhash Humayun in collaboration with WaterAid, with a motto to create awareness on the importance of washing hands and developing healthy hygiene habits.
Bondhu the puppet, the central character of the series, is voiced by young musician Pritom Hasan.
The web-series emphasises on the importance of washing hands with soap amongst youth as the first line of defence during this pandemic.
The first episode of the series aired on May 11 on WaterAid Bangladesh's official Facebook page and YouTube channel.
In a conversation with The Business Standard, Nuhash and Pritom talked about their experience of working on Bichhuz and shared insights from the shooting days.
Upon asking how he came up with the story and idea of a rapper puppet, Nuhash said, "WaterAid really wanted to do something that promotes hand washing as they have programs to do so. They wanted to make something that promotes the habit among youngsters in urban areas."
"And I wanted to create something that would convey the message to people in an interesting way," Nuhash added.
Pritom was very excited to be a part of the project. "Nuhash came up with the idea of Bondhu, wrote all the dialogues and portrayed the puppet in a very different way. Bondhu tells kids to stay home and wash their hands. He raps instead of singing, which makes the puppet special," He said.
"I enjoyed playing this character as this is something I had never done before. It was like a journey for me and challenged me in a very different way. This one is out of the box and was about my voice acting," described Pritom.
He burst into laughter and said, "I cannot wait to be Bondhu again and get beaten up by the kids."
Pritom also hinted there might be season 2 of "Bichhuz."
"If you think about the old dramas of Bangladesh and the cartoons we grew up watching, such as 'Captain Planet' or 'Meena,' convey important messages. This generation of kids, or audience in general, do not like to get messages or advise," Nuhash said, adding, "So I thought, what if there was a puppet called
Bondhu who keeps telling people to wash their hands, but nobody listens to him?" And thus, Bondhu was born.
The kids are called Bichhuz as they are unruly, and in a way they represent the modern day audiences, the young director explained.
"We tried to convey an important message in a sarcastic way, and there is a hidden message within the message, which is, we do not like to get messages!" Nuhash laughed.
Nuhash was surprised that WaterAid agreed to provide support for the entire season.
The first season of Bichhuz has four episodes. "I believe the main reason Bichhuz stands out as a web-series is because it is different and has a personality, and it was possible to execute my ideas properly because I got full support from WaterAid. Pritom's voiceover for Bondhu added charm to the character," Nuhash expressed.
WaterAid and Nuhash were in conversation about a web-series to promote hand washing since last year.
"Initially it was going to be about handwashing and we started filming before the coronavirus pandemic broke out," the director said.
Both Nuhash and Pritom are the advisory board members of WaterAid's youth wing called, "Youth for SDG 6." The platform endorses healthy hygiene habits across their institutions and within their communities.
Nuhash added, "We rushed to finish the shooting as talks of the virus hitting our country were circulating. And while we were filming, a few coronavirus cases were already found in Bangladesh."
"Surprisingly, the content became very relevant. We took proper safety measurements during the shooting even before there was any shutdown. We got lucky that we could finish filming right before the shutdown was imposed," remarked Nuhash.
The series was edited by Nuhash during home quarantine. Some dialogues were added in the post-production phase.
Nuhash told the correspondent that the Bichhuz team got Asaduzzaman Noor, aka Baker Bhai, to add a voice over message at the end of each episode.
Speaking of future works, Nuhash said he is busy writing the script for his first feature length film.