After receiving rave reviews for its two Indian web series: Sacred Games and Ghoul, Netflix is bringing yet another Indian series with the six-episode long “Leila”. This will premiere on June 14, 2019.
Based on the fiction novel of the same name by Prayaag Akbar (released in 2017), the story is set in a dystopian near-future India, where society is divided strongly into religious, caste, class, and community lines. In the story, we see that a cult, known as “Aryavarta”, has enforced certain rules on society.
In the trailer, we see the main protagonist Shalini, played by Huma Qureshi, is searching for her daughter “Leila” who is taken by the cult as they believe that she has committed a crime by marrying outside the religion and going against the rule of the society.
Men from the Aryavarta cult system take Shalin’s daughter as they term her as impure or mixed-blood, while they possibly killed Shalin’s husband and then forced her into religious indoctrination.
“Leila” is trying to show the struggle of a mother and her fight against the system, run by an authoritarian regime in a dark future India. Obsessed with purity, society has confined communities to walls, resulting in a strong xenophobic atmosphere.
Netflix’s new series sounds interesting, as these days we tend to see large-scale division spread by various political parties, as well as religious and ethnic groups.
“Leila” is based on a fictional India but certainly draws inspiration from growing radicalism in the present Indian society. While we are not too sure if this will draw any kind of criticism from the public, at least if we have an open mind – we could certainly enjoy this dystopian story where a mother struggles against a divisive social order, set by a totalitarian regime.
“Leila” is co-directed by Deepa Mehta (Elements trilogy), Shanker Raman (Gurgaon), and Pawan Kumar (Lucia), and has an amazing cast with the likes of Huma Qureshi, Siddharth, Rahul Khanna, Seema Biswas (Bandit Queen), Akash Khurana, Sanjay Suri, and Arif Zakaria among others.
Why Netflix’s LEILA is not anti-Hindu?
Here is a video response to this question explaining how the Netflix series ‘Leila’ is in no way critical of the Hindu religion and why there should be more dystopian stories in India.
Writer, podcaster, and co-creator of Ravanayan, Vijayendra Mohanty very nicely explains the nature of dystopian stories and how LEILA is not anti-Hindu propaganda.
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Netflix Press Release on Leila
India’s first dystopian story, Leila is set in an imagined world, Aryavarta in which there is great suffering, extreme and totalitarian rules of engagement and fictional extremes constructed around an obsession with purity, communal and divisive societal dramas and grit.
Leila is the story of a mothers’ imperishable maternal love for her daughter set in the political and emotional dystopia of Aryavarta.
The series is set to release on the service worldwide across 190 countries on 14 June 2019.