By Devanshi Raichura
AN HONEST COP’S LIFE CHANGES WHEN HE STARTS INVESTIGATING THE BIGGEST CASE OF HIS LIFE
The Amazon Prime Original series, Paatal Lok, produced by Anushka Sharma, released on May 15, 2020, received an uproar of positive reviews by both critics and fans alike. However, unlike most of the world if you haven’tfinished watchingall the 9 part series over the weekend, it is advisable to stop reading here if you want no spoilers.
If you are still here, you already know how down-on-his-luck cop Hathiram Chaudary is, who gave his life and soul to Delhi police in the wake of ever- growing world of crimes. Speaking about Hathiram Chaudary, an honest cop’s role played by Jaideep Ahlawat is like a cherry on the cake for this series. A quick flashback reminds me about his acting skills in hit films like Raazi, Raees, Khatta Meetha, Gangs Of Wasseypur which was one of the Bollywood blockbusters , about which he mentioned in an interview back then, was the turning point of his life. He recently played the role of Shehzad Tanveer in Bard Of Blood, a Netflix Original series, back in 2019. He definitely is in the limelight!
In the series , I cannot get enough of Imran Ansari, that young handsome cop who walked shoulder to shoulder with Hathiram, made me go ‘who’s that guy?’. Well, Ishwak Singh, the architect-turned-actor, apparently turned into an overnight crush too. He worked in the films like Veere Di Wedding, Tum Bin II, Tamasha, Malaal and a few more.
Hathiram defines Imran Ansari, his newly appointed mate that the Earth was segregated into three worlds, i.e. Swarg Lokwhich is a residence for God, representing Sanjeev Mehra and other powerful people. Then there is Dharti Lok where normal human being live, denoting to common, middle class people like himself. Lastly, Paatal Lok where insects live depicting all the criminal minded people like Vishal Tyagi, a dreadful villain.
The whole series focuses on the monotonous life of a common man, showing how crime occurs at every place whether in Metro cities or Small villages. One more plus point is that the series have covered up all the social issues like child labour, molestation, rape, poverty, crime, distraction among youth and children, dirty political games, corruption, extra marital affairs, caste system, religious differences, human rights , also the hypocrisy of the news channels and their fakeness. Everything is as raw as shown here. This story revolves around the posh areas of Delhi as well as the East Delhi, slum areas, the extreme rural areas of Haryana, U.P. Punjab and so on.
There is nothing more engaging for an Indian audience than being served the truth on a platter. Isn’t Hathi Ram, you, me and many more like us fighting their own demons everyday?
Behind the face of a serial killer, Hathoda Tyagi aka Vishal Tyagi is a well known actor Abhishek Banerjee. I’m in ancomplete awe of his acting skills. Who wouldn’t be? He is the casting director in movies like Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, DearDad, Secret Superstar, Kalank and more. His first movie is Rang De Basanti, after which he kept on showing and flaunting his acting skill in films like No One Killed Jessica, Stree, Dreamgirl, Bala, the movie’s list goes on but he never fails to impress his fans and followers. How can I not mention about the Indian, crime thriller web series Mirzapur, Amazon Prime Video Original series which I’m sure most of us binge watched. Coming up with another punch in Mirzapur season 2 and a few more Bollywood movies this year, he keeps thriving! He has garnered a huge fan base after his performance in Paatal Lok,however, in a recent interview he revealed that the ‘women in his life’, his mother and his wife refuses to watch the series. Yes you read it right! With a smirk he took it as a compliment because the show turned out to be as scary as they wanted to make it. Ok, IMPRESSIVE! Moving on, in a flashback, it is revealed that Tyagi began his criminal life when he took revenge on three boys after his sisters were raped. His school teacher took him to the local gangster, Donullia. Donullia is described as a man who is both feared and revered in the community. Tyagibecomes his disciple. He begins referring to Donullia as Masterji. Tyagi now is one of the arrested accused suspects of the murder.
Tope Singh’s role is played by Jagjeet Sandhu worked in Punjabi films. He took his first step in film Industry, Tope Singh is also called as Chakku because he uses a knife to kill or threaten people.
Third suspect is Kabir M. yes, surprisingly, it’s just ‘M’.
Last but not the least, here comes yet another interesting character of the show Mairembam Ronaldo Sing, a transwoman. She, whose role in the mission was to pretend to be a woman and allow safe passage for the others, Cheeni’s (Mary Lyngdoh) story and struggles held up a mirror to society’s inhuman treatment of the LGBTQ+ community. This is the secondtime that in a mainstream web series LGBTQ character is actually played by an LGBTQ actress. GROWTH. Not to compare 2 shows but Kubbra Sait, who played the transgender Kukoo in the Netflix series Sacred Games, noticed what seemed to be a reference to her character in Paatal Lok. This is already being hailed by fans as the ‘greatest crossover ever’. I’m glad to know people are normalizing LGBTQ , or wait, are they? Only 35% of Indians were in favor of LGBTQ legalization, then no, they are not normalizing but only complicating! However ,media is one of the best platform to create awareness amongst people who think it isn’t normal to be a transgender. According to me, transgender playing lead role on media platform is a straight-up-punch-in-the-face question to people who are not in the favor of legalizing and normalizing LGBTQ, ‘How hard is it for you to understand that gender equality is for all the people in the world, regardless of the fact that these people also include lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender?’In Paatal Lok, Mary Lyngdoh aka Cheeni works at a beauty parlour run by Kukoo. Like the Sacred Games character, there is more to Cheeni than meets the eye, as seen in the backstory. In the series, her parents pass away when she was young and her uncle left her in a train saying he would return but he never did. Since then she lived in the slum areas.
These suspects were arrested for conspiring murder plan to kill one of the top most journalist, Sanjeev Mehra. This case was handed over to the cop Hathi Ram, who later does a deep investigation in the matter where he finds out the loopholes and conspiracy of our politicians, how the whole system involved in the process of crime and is adulterated but seen by the people as they are the Messengers from God.
If we talk about the so called journalist, Sanjeev Mehra, he had her wife Dolly Mehra around him fighting her own battles with the media tycoon and anxiety attacks, she created a world outside the same, in Savitri, the street dog she takes care of. Savitri accidentally saved Sanjeev’s life because Hathoda Tyagiwas a dog lover and he was told by his masterji that the people who love dogs and the dogs who love them back are good people. That gave him a dilemma whether to kill Sanjeev or not.
On the other hand, HathiRam’s son was seen with a gun in the school, no it was not his father’s gun but it belonged to yet another young age group indulged in politics and crimes.
The gun would’ve been in the hands of any son of India if we do not start to deviate from the bare truth that psychologically there is more than just aspiring parents.
This series is a compilation of a nail biting suspense, bitter truth and some social problems we are not even totally aware about.
GLASS HALF FULL:
After the first few suspenseful episodes, the Case takes a turn to into social commentary on prime time media, power, politics, dog love and more. Too many sub plots and backstories weighed down the pace and my patience. Towards the end, the story gets fairly tedious, resulting in an over stretched, muddled mess. It tries to touch too many things and it got too complicated.
Paatal Lok has found itself in a few controversies which includes BJP, MLA Nandkishor Gurjar has filed a complaint against the producer, Anushka Sharma allegedly using his photograph in the series without his permission. The alleged photo originally featured UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath but the one appearing on the show has been morphed. He has demanded a ban on the show. However, Anushka Sharma mentioned about the Season 2 of Paatal Lok, adding that ifAmazon is willing to do it, definitely there will be another season.
The sikh community, Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management committee president Manjinder Singh Sirsa has shared his concern , he has objected to the scene where a Sikh man is shown to be raping a woman while another Sikh man watches in despair. This has upset the community and he too has demanded to ban the show.
The stray dog in the show is named Savitri which was opposed by a lot of people as Savitri is the Goddess and one cannot name a pet animal by the name of any God/Goddess.
The Nepali communism too have shown outrage against the usage of racist slur used to describe the Nepalis. The upset, nepali communism has asked the producer to mute the slur. In the show, the lady cop character assassinates her, this shows the insensitive treatment and how biased people are, may it be the government institutes or the common folks. The role of many aspiring Nepali actresses with mongoloid features have been confined to parlour aunties and spa receptionists. Sunil Chettri, the captain of the Indian football team, is a Nepali. Yet he gets comments like ‘Ye Nepali kaun hai’ during an Instagram live session with Virat Kohli.
Imagine you being judged or called names or facing biased abuse time and again? Right, you won’t tolerate that for yourself, will you?
My friend messaged me on whatsapp the other day saying, “ Noone is going to be ashamed after watching this series, they are gonna be like ‘acha, naya gaali mil gaya” and this spoke words to me.
Overall, concluding would there have been a better climax to such a powerful portrayal. Was Cheeni destined to end up the way He, oh wait, or is it She ended up? The story shows only one side of the coin.
The cast, the location according to the situations is apt, keeping that in mind I would give Paatal Lok a rating of 4/5.
Paatal Lok is inherently our world!
Devanshi Raichura is a Media student from Mumbai.