Disclaimer – Paatal Lok Spoiler Alert! Anyone who hates spoilers can simply skip this article.
With the success of web series like Sacred Games and Mirzapur, OTT platforms were soon flooded with numerous projects following the neo-noir genre of crime drama. While some like Rangbaaz, Bhaukaal, Jamtara to name a few, left the audience craving for more, others like the second season of Sacred Games fell flat on their face. So has Paatal Lok, the brand new release, made a mark? Let’s find out.
Paatal Lok is a neo-noir crime drama that is currently streaming on Amazon Prime. Directed by ‘Pari’ fame Prosit Roy and produced by Anushka Sharma, this movie stars Jaideep Ahlawat in the principal role, supported by actors like Neeraj Kabi, Abhishek Bannerjee, Gul Panag and others.
The web series is based on the trials and tribulations of Inspector Hathiram Chaudhary, a cop with the Delhi Police, who is assigned the case of the attempt to murder prime time journalist Sanjeev Mehra. Is the case that simple to crack, or are there many more layers to be unraveled? This forms the crux of the plot of Paatal Lok.
What went wrong?
To be fair, let’s give credit where credit is due. All the actors in Paatal Lok performed quite well. While Jaideep Ahlawat is showan as the trigger happy, obstinate Hathiram Chaudhary, Abhishek Bannerjee brings chills down your spine as the menacing Vishal ‘Hathoda’ Tyagi. Neeraj Kabi as the scheming journalist Sanjeev Mehra has more shades of the suave journalist that Tarun Tejpal once was, rather than the Ravish Kumar many social media users perceived him to be.
However, if brilliant screenplay and great acting were enough for any film, why would movies like ‘Kaagaz ke Phool’ or ‘Rog’ tank at the box office? One of the main reasons behind Paatal Lok turning into a cringe-fest was the leftist agenda that it was vomiting out with each and every episode. If you don’t believe it, check out these moments on the show-
- The chief villain meditates before the statue of Bhagwan Shiva before carrying out his nefarious deeds. A dacoit in this series is also very devout and exhorts his followers to worship the “Brahmin God.”
- The lea Muslim character in Paatal Lok, especially the one of Sub Inspector Ansari, is the man with the golden heart, who is unjustly humiliated by one and all. His colleagues mock him, he is alleged to be connected to the IS, and even someone as influential as the home secretary indulges in gross Islamophobia with him. Long story short, anyone who is a Hindu is nothing less than the Devil personified for the makers of Paatal Lok.
- Whoever is a leftist or a Muslim, he/she is a saint by default. Every villain must have an emotional backstory, which compelled him/her to resort to crime. Modi Sarkar has to be targeted in whichever way possible.
- The corporate world is forever scheming, and has nothing better to do than to create a religious divide.
To be honest, the way the Hindu community has been portrayed in Paatal Lok reeks of absolute contempt on the part of the makers. To quote a few examples, corpses are buried within the temple, temples are nothing short of murder arcades, and it is quite normal for Hindus to lynch Muslims in trains, chanting Jai Shri Ram. This comes only a couple of weeks after the murderous lynching of two Sadhus at Palghar, which makes the intention of this series even murkier.
Another thing that is seriously wrong with Paatal Lok is the way policemen have been portrayed. They’re either corrupt to the core, or extremely helpless, incapable of making a huge change. While the police may not have an exactly rosy image in the eyes of masses, they’re not helpless or confused like Inspector Hathiram Chaudhary or Sub Inspector Ansari either.
However, my biggest grudge with Paatal Lok is the way abuses and intimate scenes have been used to nauseating levels. Some scenes are so lewd, even soft porn from Alt Balaji would look decent in front of it. While scenes like these have their own relevance in crime dramas, infusing them unnecessarily where they don’t fit, is certainly not what you would associate a good crime drama with. If only the makers had somewhat observed the way ‘Asur’ was created.
There was a dialogue in some movie, that had a serious message even when said in jest, “There is a way of saying or doing things, those who care do not taunt”. Had the makers of Paatal Lok cared about the art of subtlety, their product wouldn’t have been as repulsive and yawn-inducing as it is now. All that Paatal Lok seriously deserves is 1 / 5 stars.