Amazon Prime’s “Paatal Lok” is a very well-written crime drama series with an impressive story that is full of interesting characters. Unlike many such stories of the neo-noir crime genre, where suspense and action take the lead, the narration focuses more on the realistic portrayal of characters.
“Paatal Lok” follows a downhearted cop (inspector Hathi Ram Chaudhary) who from nowhere is assigned to solve an assassination attempt of a prime-time journalist. While from its first look, the case looks like a small conspiracy, the cop’s investigation reveals the dirty network of politicians, the nexus of media that is favorable to those in power, and the corrupt game of too many players, including the CBI, police force, and government.
Watch the “Paatal Lok” trailer here
With such an intriguing premise, the series introduces us to Paatal Lok, a mythical reference to hell or the netherworld. It is the place where crime and criminals flourish when the rich and powerful enjoy the luxury of being in the upper strata of society.
In Hindu mythology ‘Paatal Lok’ refers to the land ruled by demons and is a part of the three worlds (Triloks) – the others being ‘Swarg Lok’ or heaven (the abode of Gods); and the ‘Prithvi Lok’ or ‘Martya Lok’ – the earth, or the land of the mortals.
Considering the way Indian society is structured and the contemporary socio-political issues, the complex storyline draws several parallels providing an intense outlook of the ways high-profile cases get settled away from the public glare. Mostly, how corruption and immorality take precedence over the lives of the commons.
“Paatal Lok” shows shades of many characters, including morally disgraceful cops, power-hungry politicians, and unethical media folks. At the same time, we see the protagonist – a cop with his troubled family life, a young cop who is always looked at with suspicion as a result of religious bigotry, and of course a look at some of India’s deep-rooted social issues.
It is not wise to reveal much about the story, as it is multi-layered, and hence advisable to watch and learn the way the narration is structured. However, as far as performance is concerned, Jaideep Ahlawat once again proves how he shines in such roles and it’s no surprise that he has brought a unique flavor to the character with much improvisation (away from what must be written in the script).
Besides, Ishwak Singh as the young cop who plays the assistant to Hathi Ram in the investigation is indeed a promising performer. While I could not understand the casting of actor Gul Panag as Ram’s wife, her role is indeed relatable, as a supportive housewife with suppressed ambition for her family.
It is also worth mentioning the two other prominent cast Neeraj Kabi as Sanjeev Mehra – a reputed news anchor, who was to be attacked; and Abhishek Banerjee as Vishal “Hathoda” Tyagi – a ruthless killer. Creator Sudip Sharma very indigently draws similarities to real-life journalist Tarun Tejpal whose book (The Story of My Assassins) the story is based on, while throwing light on the media industry.
Moreover, “Paatal Lok” keeps us engaged until its final episode with multiple subplots, including the cast equation, class, gender bias, social inequalities, corruption, and several other social issues. Above all, beyond the crime story, the series is a must-watch for everyone and a good way to have some basic understanding of the complexities of Indian society.
Directors – Avinash Arun, Prosit Roy
Creator – Sudip Sharma
Starring – Jaideep Ahlawat, Neeraj Kabi, Gul Panag, Ishwak Singh, Abhishek Banerjee, Swastika Mukherjee, Niharika Lyra Dutt
Streaming Platform: Amazon Prime Video
Release Date/Year: May 15, 2020