Sometimes it feels like blessings that you watch a web series months after it got on air, because by that time you obviously have all gathered kinds of reviews of that series and thus you can make your own review easily based on right or wrong conclusions made by others. Paatal Lok was termed as Hindu phobic but intriguing at the same time when it was first released on Amazon Prime last year during the lockdown. I watched all the 9 episodes the last weekend, and here I am with my own review, writing it while taking all those reviews of the past in mind, obviously, that can be termed as a late review.
Series: Paatal Lok
Cast: Jaideep Ahlawat (Inspector Hathiram Chaudhary), Gul Panag (Renu Chaudhary), Ishwak Singh (Sub Inspector Ansari), Neeraj Kabi (Sanjeev Mehra), Niharika Lyra Dutt (Sara Matthews), Swastika Mukherjee (Dolly Mehra), Abhishek Banerjee (Vishal or Hathoda Tyagi), Jagjeet Sandhu (Top Singh), Aasif Khan (Kabir M), Mairembam Ronaldo Singh (Cheeni), Vipin Sharma (DCP Bhagat), Anurag Rora (SHO Virk) Rajesh Sharma (Gwala Gujar) and Anup Jalota (Balkishan Bajpayee)
Director: Avinash Arun
Total Episodes: 9
OTT Platform: Amazon Prime
Delhi police’s DCP Bhagat and his team get an anonymous tip that a group of four people is on their way to kill a famous anchor and editor of a news channel, Sanjeev Mehra. Before Bhagat and his team could reach the hotel where these four were staying, they managed to escape from there, but while engaging in a hot pursuit Bhagat and his team manage to catch all four of them.
While making rounds through his PCR van, the Delhi Police Inspector Hathiram Chaudhary of the Outer Jamna Par police station reaches the spot, and Bhagat immediately hands over the case to Hathiram Chaudhary as the arrests were made in Hathiram’s police station’s jurisdiction. Hathiram was happy to get this case investigated because the police station he was serving from is low key and had a very little chance to get any investigations, forget high profile cases.
Sub Inspector Ansari starts to help Hathiram during the investigations by doing most of the leg work. Hathiram with his enthusiasm to get his first high-profile case cracked, and also with help of Ansari, comes extremely close to reach the conclusion about who is or was the real culprit behind these four criminals. On the other hand, Sanjeev Mehra made this entire episode an emotional issue to get public sympathy, and thus his channel, which was in bad shape till now, suddenly started to get good TRPs.
When Hathiram and his team were about to crack the case DCP Bhagat not only takes the case back from Hathiram and hands it over to the CBI, but he also suspends Hathiram for not doing his duty properly by making a few goof-ups while investigating the case. But Hathiram, who wants to prove his credibility not only to himself but also f to his son and the family, doesn’t stop the investigation and after some real hard work, he unearths a larger conspiracy that goes beyond Sanjeev Mehra.
To be very honest the story or the script of Paatal Lok didn’t impress me personally. Paatal Lok happens to be ‘just another web series’ which has many similarities to few other series we have seen on various OTT platforms. Paatal Lok is also a Hindu phobic, it also has an ocean of abusive words, it also has intimate scenes or even a rape scene which could easily have ignored. Paatal Lok also runs on a few simultaneous stories at one time, but when the series ends you are forced to think that some of those subplots were not necessary.
Even with the climax, or the reason given for the entire exercise looks foolish. When you come to know the suspense you tend to believe that you have actually wasted almost nine precious hours of your life. The reason given for the entire exercise is so unconvincing that we start to feel that Hathiram, Ansari and all, made such a giant effort just to know this insignificant thing and not something which could have given us a jaw-dropping climax?
The one and the only savior for Paatal Lok is Jaideep Ahlawat! We all know that he has been a fabulous actor and he has proved that time and again whenever he got a chance to till today. But in Paatal Lok Jaideep Ahlawat just rocks with his acting, expressions, dialogue delivery, and body language, the terrific mixture which we were missing due to little chances he got till now.
There is one scene where Jaideep Ahlawat just lets the outburst of his emotions go in an auto-rickshaw. That is one of the highlights of not only Paatal Lok the series. but also of Jaideep Ahlawat the actor. There is another scene in the last episode when Hathiram goes to meet Sanjeev Mehra at his office and narrates to him the story of Yudhishthir’s travel to heaven, that scene is also extremely gripping just because of the way Jaideep Ahlawat delivers the dialogues.
Apart from Jaideep Ahlawat, another actor which impresses is Neeraj Kabi. Neeraj Kabi has a tendency to remain within his limits and act. Over here too Kabi remains within his limitations but with his facial and vocal expressions, he impresses most of the audience.
Other than these two one can give Gul Panag her due credit. To be honest, after at least four episodes, my thinking was that Gul Panag has been wasted because she was given a non-glamorous role, but after that, she lived up to what must have expected from her director. The rest of the actors, Abhishek Banerjee, who is now a regular in web series across the OTT platforms, does his regular duties as a good actor, but this time with very few dialogues.
As we all know that most of the web series, across the OTT platforms, in a way, have a specific agenda and that is to show the Hindus in a bad light, Paatal Lok is no different. While watching the series, I noted down plenty of scenes where Hindu phobia or Hindu bashing is on the rampage in Paatal Lok. But one particular scene, I thought sums up the mentality of the left leaned web series makers of India in general.
There is a scene where little Kabir M, one of the accused, traveling by train and at Hapur railway station he, his elder brother, and elder father open the boxes of dinner which they carried along. There is a Hindu lady and her daughter also traveling in the same compartment, and the lady starts getting nauseous seeing non-veg food in those boxes. Later she also starts to vomit inside the bogey. The elder brother of Kabir M offers her water but she refuses to take it as he is a Muslim.
This is not enough but at that time a group of Ram Sevaks also board the train see this thing happening before their eyes and then they start to lynch the elder brother of Kabir M in front of Kabir M and his father. Because of this incident, Kabir M always keeps a certificate with him that he has not done ‘khatna’ but he has been operated on just to save himself from Hindus.
This entire sequence suggests, through the eyes of left-leaned creators, that in India only Hindus are killers, and every day they lynch Muslims, but Muslims are good citizens they do not discriminate and are always helpful to Hindus. The agenda of ‘Dara Hua Musalmaan’ has been played very smartly in Paatal Lok. But the funny part was that the entire sequence of Kabir M’s past was not at all necessary and it could have easily been ignored, but then the left-liberal agenda against Hindus would not have been served the way it is always desired.
There is also a political agenda shown in Paatal Lok, where some small actors are saying that country has been gone to dogs for the last few years, that one can understand is since 2014 when a majority government took power. In one scene Sanjeev Mehra (Neeraj Kabi) even mocks people from opposite ideology by saying that they will ask us to go to Pakistan if we don’t toe their line. This is another agenda which we are witnessing for the last six years.
To sum up the series Paatal Lok, it is not that over the board kind of a series at all. If you still have not watched it you can watch it again as mentioned above, for Jaideep Ahlawat and his power-packed performance, and for that reason you won’t feel disappointed.
15th March 2021, Monday