The books that made ‘Kaiser’
Hoichoi's Kaiser, released on July 8, 2022, is part tribute to the genre of detective novels and part beckoning call for viewers to return to the excitement of reading books. Everything from the premise—based heavily on Rakib Hasan's series of detective novels called Teen Goyenda—to the set design, character development and plot twists, rely on books as both objects and intellectual stimuli. Daily Star Books editor Sarah Anjum Bari speaks with Kaiser's director Tanim Noor and screen writer Ayman Asib Shadhin about the books that inspired the popular TV show.
Why do books play such a significant role in Kaiser?
Tanim Noor: I grew up in the '90s, in Dhaka, reading detective stories. At the time we used to read the Teen Goyenda series (Sheba Prokashoni), along with Anandabazar's puja specials that published stories by writers of West Bengal. Around 2013, I also reread Sherlock Holmes and I wondered, what if there were a detective character like this in Bangladesh? That thought first sparked the name of Kaisar, and then the idea that he would have certain characteristics.
In 2016, I shared the idea with my then-colleague, Abdul Quaiyum Leon, who also loves reading detective novels. He said, "Let me write a story about it first". Around 2019-20, we wrote a new draft of the story and sold the script to Hoichoi in 2021, at which point, Shadhin joined the project and added his own layers and ideas. This is how it started.
Ayman Asib Shadhin: We wanted to see the characters of Teen Goyenda come to life in a setting that is centred around Dhaka city as it did not exist before this—the closest is perhaps Humayun Ahmed's Misir Ali. We also wanted to explore the character's personal life on screen along with his work as a detective.
I started to think about how to naturally incorporate the books into the show, and I came up with the idea of making the characters self aware of the fact that they are in a detective story. It was the easiest way to add a spin to the tropes of the detective novel.