Amazon Prime Video’s latest web series, Paatal Lok, starring Jaideep Ahlawat, Neeraj Kabi, Abhishek Banerjee, Gul Panag and Swastika Mukherjee in the lead, has getting rave reviews everywhere and people in exaggeration calling it as the baap to “Sacred Games” and “Mirzapur“. The show has been produced by Anushka Sharma which was written by Sudip Sharma, directed by Avinash Arun and Prosit Roy. The series seems to based on Tarun Tejpal’s (Unofficial) book “The Story Of My Assassins“.
Pataal Lok – The story is about a policeman, Hathiram Chaudhary (Jaideep Ahlawat) whose posting is at Outer Jamunapar Police Station, Delhi. According to Hathiram’s Whatsapp University, there are three worlds in the world. Swarga Lok – Where Elders Live. Dharti Lok- where he lives. Patal Lok – Where his posting is. There is a bridge in the area of Hathiram.
The first episode of Paatal Lok starts with a patrolling inspector Hathi Ram Chaudhury who explains his WhatsApp read cosmological story to a freshly joined Muslim rookie Ansari about three origins such as Swarg (heaven, where influential people lives), Dharti (Earth, where common people like Hathi Ram lives) and Paatal (Under World, where the crime generates and spread to Dharti) but usually the influential people always behind the conflict which metaphorically introduces the theme of the series.
The plot then thickens with the special operation of the Delhi Police, four criminals aka Hammer Tyagi, Tope Singh, Chini and Kabir are arrested on outer Jamunaa bridge. They were accused of conspiring the murder of media tycoon Sanjeev Mehra (Neeraj Kabi), who is a TV journalist has the history of a sting operation which made him famous.
This case is assigned to Hathiram whose personality shaped on the backdrop of violent childhood. So, Hathiram not only sort out the case but also has to make his family to believe him as hero unlike his father. Jaideep Ahlawat’s acting brilliance and simplicity suited well for this entire self-doubted father cum cop. Gulpanaag as a mother who backs his son, brother and rarely even the husband has portrayed her role as usual.
The entire series runs on to reveal about “Tyagi” role, played by Abhishek Banerjee who silently broken the skulls of viewers with his serious yet almost muted (less dialogues) performance. The makers would be appreciated for sighting a serial killer looks in Abhishek, for whom Tyagi is undoubtedly a path breaking role.
After playing a corrupted police officer in Sacred games, Neeraj Kabi, the versatile actor strikes again with Sanjeev Mehra’s role, who is a self proclaimed journalist became popular with his mark of sting journalism. The unsuccessful assassination attempt on him by Tyagi’s gang, which seems to be the center point (?) of the series yet questioning the morale of media stories nowadays where success shadows relationships. This role only requires a rebel with zero emotions and self supremacy. Neeraj Kabi is the best choice as Sanjeev that no one would be pulled it as simple as Neeraj.
Dolly is played by Swastika Mukherjee is the surprising feast to the eyes of viewers. She suffers from medical anxiety that requires her in need of constant companionship as her ever absent husband Sanjeev fails to romantically connect with her. This pushes Dolly to the verge of a breakdown, but she manages to bounce back by providing for a stray dog. In this, both Dolly and the dog become the emotional support for each other that the world denied them.
Metaphor–ism is at its peaks:
Paatal Lok is stressing firmly on mythological resemblances as under currents of the origins of places, Swarga and Paatal lok along with Dharti. The canine metaphor isn’t incidental where it has shown in several times during the episodes but until Tyagi’s story mutters his compassion and empathy towards dogs slowly slips into the hands of Dolly as her connection with a pregnant stray dog and the connection unfolded between Tyagi and Dolly’s empathy towards dogs looks promising and satisfies the nerves of the viewers.
Late in the series, an interstate bus runs over a dog on the highway. Chaudhary steps out and observes the roadkill: It’s between two regions, two worlds. The sky is dark. The driver shrugs, but for once, the inspector has no wisdom to dispense. He is speechless. A lot of human blood is spilled, but the sight of a gutted dog – like a mangled cockroach – feels far more daunting in context of the visceral primitivity of Paatal Lok. It’s a wild country, but no country for the wild. –RAHUL DESAI (Film Companion)
Unlike the dark ‘Sacred games” where the exaggerated portrayal of crime meets religion, Paatal Lok sensitizes the societal crime linked religion satirically.
“Shashtron me likha hua hai par maine WhatsApp par padha tha.” – Hathiram says it with his subordinate Ansari, is an ultimate satire on people of India, reveals the complexity of what goes on in a life of today’s common man, in a humorous way.
The coordination portrayal between Hathi Ram and Ansari (a hindu-muslim duo) also seems to be a satirical punch to the current mindset of people. Islamophobia, gender fluidity, caste and religious discrimination, violence against women, corruption, greed and deceit are recurring themes in the show but what it achieves through portrayal is the sensitisation of its viewers.
“I will not judge you, if you don’t judge me” – one of the characters utter suits to almost all the characters in the series, which an entire Indian society perceives loosely, socially and politically.
The Protagonist role donned by Jaideep Ahlawat needs a special mention here. It seems that Hathiram role seems to be patched well with the career of Jaideep as an actor, who still looking for his ground break performance and Paatal Lok might be that one for sure.
Jaideep Ahlwat’s outstanding acting shines here as a troubled cop, who is desperate to solve a big case which can make him a hero, especially to his family members. The complexity of simple family life of Hathiram presented amazingly on screen by the actor who transforms his emotions along with his day to day nuances happen at home, shapes his behavior at station where once becomes violent towards trans character. As he loses his temper at home reflects his failures at workplace and all these emotions were brilliantly essayed by Jaideep Ahlawat.
Paatal Lok is one of the best crime thrillers today on any streaming platforms in India. It is a story well written, crafted and produced. The cinematography is amazing and the dialogues are brilliant.
Paatal Lok is a good series which is about an investigation of an attempted assassination where the culprits should be revealed on “need to know” basis, but leaked abruptly in the middle creates much tension and makes you desperate to run behind a huge built up drama and manufactured news created to divert people from the actual scenario but later ends up as a false which happens in the contemporary Indian society. But the way it has been handled on screen looks much promising that need to be appreciated.
- – Ashok Kumar