Can a man truly escape his past? Especially if one’s history is filled with sketchy details of brutality and unsavoury dealings with the mob?
In the Astro mini-series Dosa (stylised as Do[s]a), the past returns to haunt Latif (played by Datuk M. Nasir), a quiet silat master living in Kuala Lumpur. He spends most of his time training his children in the art of silat and making sure they look out for each other.
When his daughter Fara (Shenty Fezliana) is kidnapped, Latif asks his three sons to pack their weapons and travel to Jakarta, Indonesia, to bring her back.
Latif is a man of few words, so the sons (as well as the audience) do not know why the father is so sure Fara is held in Jakarta. The lack of information frustrates hot-headed Farid (Remy Ishak), especially.
Eldest son Fuad (Ashraf Sinclair) seems to have an inkling about his father’s connection to Fara’s kidnappers but he is not saying much as well. All he says is that his father tried his best to protect everyone from the inevitable in Jakarta.
The mystery about Latif’s true identity lingers throughout this intriguing eight-part series. It skilfully serves as a hook to keep the audience watching for a potentially shocking and devastating reveal.
Dosa also does well in exploring the dark side of the modern world in Jakarta via a criminal network known as Gerbang Utara.
Veteran Indonesian actor Roy Marten easily steals the show as Marco, the unforgiving head of a gang looking to take over Gerbang Utara. This is a man who happily pulls the trigger at anyone who upsets him. It doesn’t matter if you’re a well-dressed head of another gang or a lowly henchman, Marco does not discriminate. A dinner with Marco could easily be one’s last meal.
His much-feared presence alone, whether he’s just walking down the stairs with a cigar or having a meal at a warung, increases the intensity of the show.
What do you do with all the simmering tension in the air? When things escalate, Dosa goes into fight mode. And here’s when the series fumbles a bit.
While Nasir’s fight scenes – from the four episodes made available for review – do not disappoint, the actors playing the sons do not fare as well. Hopefully, the fight scenes get better as the episodes progresses.
There is one memorable action sequence involving Latif. It has him walking alone at night when he suddenly stops to snarl: “If you’re going to breathe so loudly, what’s the point of hiding? Come out now!”… And lo behold, a few men emerge from their hideouts, only to be taken down efficiently by Latif.
The action scenes in Dosa also reminds us that the stakes are high for every character on the show.
From the moment Latif’s three sons arrive in Jakarta, trouble awaits at every corner. They have to dodge bullets, evade police arrests and hide from those on Marco’s payroll. How are they ever going to find their sister?
Their harrowing journey becomes a form of self-discovery as they walk in a world so far removed from their own simple life in KL. When youngest brother Fahad (Hisyam Hamid) breaks down, you know they’re not mentally prepared for what’s ahead.
Fortunately, kidnapped sister Fara is also well-versed in silat and is more than capable of protecting herself. Actress Shenty is quite a revelation in her ass-kicking role.
She embodies how a modern woman should be portrayed in local fares – a definitely positive change from sexist depiction of women in films. Fara may be in a vulnerable position but she is not helpless.
The right combination of intrigue, action, emotion and believable characters is what makes Dosa an entertaining watch.
Though the show’s uneven pacing could throw some viewers off, it ultimately delivers in terms of a well-executed story about survival and how the past has a way of rearing its ugly head when you least expect it.
But just like Fara and her brothers refusing to go down without a fight, Dosa’s biggest message is to face your problems head-on if you ever want to overcome the consequences of your past actions.