The new Marathi language series B .E. Rojgaar is both witty and timely, with a likeable lead trio and well-written sequences.
According to data released by the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) think tank, India’s unemployment rate was at a worrying 7.8% in June, leading to the loss of nearly 13 million jobs. . However, this is partly explained by the seasonal lull in agricultural activity at the moment, and the CMIE expects a partial reversal of this trend in the months to come. But what was really a red flag for economic watchers was the fact that 2.5 million salaried jobs were also lost in June, a high number by any measure. We now know that companies like Ola, Byjus, Unacademy et al have laid off thousands of people between them in recent months. Clearly, the demographics of the “educated unemployed” will be one of the biggest challenges India will face over the next 5-10 years.
Directed by Sarang Sathaye, the often funny new Marathi web series BE Rojgar (all episodes are now available on YouTube) is based on the simple premise of three unemployed engineers and their quest to find good salaried jobs in Pune. Significantly, the show is sponsored by Scaler, an Indian learning platform that serves early-career tech professionals, enhancing their skills and offering mentorships with older and established industry professionals.
Piyu (Sai Tamhankar), Akshay (Jagdish Kannam) and Papdya (Sambaji Sasane) live together in a rented apartment in Pune and their job search takes up most of their waking hours. The immensely likeable main trio are all very different from each other in terms of temperament – Akshay is sweet and gentle, Papdya is exuberant and cunning while Piyu is resilient, level-headed and fiercely loyal to her friends.
Together, the three friends face a variety of sadly funny problems and situations, each related to their continued unemployment in one way or another. An extended gag in the very first episode is clearly meant as a take for Scaler’s services, but it’s an effective scene nonetheless. Akshay, the most submissive of the three friends, is about to fall under the spell of a crafty forger – this man specializes in forging corporate documents and he can produce you fake employment records in companies software (for a small fee, of course). This unnamed character is a great way to illustrate an empirical truth – in times of scarcity, various smuggler or middleman type officials emerge in an unregulated market.
Akshay, as usual, dithers a bit before insisting that his ‘mentor Scaler’ had advised him ‘skills rather than degrees’ and that he feared being caught and blacklisted by all the businesses in town.
It’s a charming little scene, even if the in-app advertising takes a little shine out of the writing. Piyu, meanwhile, hides the fact that she is unemployed from her parents, who live in a village an overnight bus ride from Pune. She avoids video calls so her parents don’t know she has two male roommates – later she avoids video so her parents don’t see her working as a security guard, a job she clearly feels bad about comfortable but she has to do anyway, make ends meet.
In another very funny sequence, we see the three friends confront the son of their landlord who is about to evict them because they have not paid the rent for three months. In the middle of his rant, however, he is interrupted by his furious girlfriend, who complains that the two never have any intimacy. Cunning Papdya offers a win-win solution for all involved, inspired by the movie The apartment.
Tamhankar’s performance makes Piyu the character you are always looking for. There is a controlled fury in his outrage. When she speaks to her father with a mixture of affection and exasperation (he asks her to marry and become a housewife), we feel intimately the two halves of her reaction. When she stands up for Akshay and Papdya, we can see the spirit of solidarity of the oppressed shine through. This is another very convincing performance from Tamhankar who was also excellent in the recent SonyLiv show. Pet Puraan.
The creators of the show, Bharatiya Digital Party, are compared to TVF these days. The parallels aren’t hard to see – content aimed at yuppies, especially those working in tech and tech-adjacent industries, energetic young actors backed by familiar faces, a similar kind of bittersweet humor . Even their corporate association with Scaler is an old TVF move – watch their series Aspirantswhich is sponsored by Unacademy and follows a group of UPSC applicants.
BE Rojgar is a timely, witty comedy with well-executed sets and lots of heart, and by the end of the first season, I found myself wanting to spend more time with these characters.
Aditya Mani Jha is a Delhi-based freelance writer and journalist currently working on a book of essays on Indian comics and graphic novels.