Prime Video’s latest original Paatal Lok is finally out and promises crime-thriller-lovers of a racy journey with a touch of desi. The show plans to take its viewers on a ride similar to “MIRZAPUR” that travels on the edge of crime and morality in the modern world.
Paatal Lok creates an entire universe where the underbelly of our immediate world will be exposed and leave us questioning everything from the integrity of the media industry, our law and order system as well as our notion of justice.
It is no surprise then that Paatal Lok goes back to referring to the assassination of Gauri Lankesh, whose politics and words rankled a certain sect so much that they had to use a gun to silence her pen.
Paatal Lok opens on a similar premise. Four goons are apprehended on a bridge over the Yamuna and handed over to Inspector Hathiram Chaudhary at Outer Jamuna Paar thana… paatal lok, like we’re introduced to it in the opening scene. The universe is divided into three worlds: swarg lok, dharti lok and paatal lok, we are told. The inhabitants of this paatal lok are vermin. Your gangsters, goons, and small-time down-and-out police inspectors like Hathiram Chaudhary whose lives revolve around catching them. Hathiram’s father left him with a past that rears its ugly trunk every time his wife draws analogies with Babuji and his son is ridiculed by his English-spouting classmates. This case holds the potential to give Hathiram a ticket to dharti lok with the occasional peek into swarg lok.
In these nine episodes, the directors of Paatal Lok Avinash Arun Dhawre and Prosit Roy (Pari) and writer Sudip Sharma (NH10, Udta Punjab) take you through everything that India 2020 is dealing with. Well, everything minus the coronavirus because, well, the series was shot before this virus hit. But that apart, the politics of the country is interwoven into the narrative so deftly that not for one moment do you feel glutted.
Characters | Paatal Lok
The characters in the series, for one, are picked out of your neighbourhood. If your life is in swarg lok, you will find a known in Neeraj Kabi and Swastika Mukherjee. If you are a resident of dharti lok, Gul Panag and Jaideep Ahlawat’s middle-class home, their tussles with their teenage son and the brother-in-law will appear familiar.
The crisp editing makes you hang on to every scene in the series, with each episode ending on a cliffhanger that compels you to click on the next. The beauty of the series also lies in the performance of each of the actors.
Abhishek Banerjee as Vishal AKA Hathoda Tyagi is chilling; with his cold, emotionless eyes doing the trick in most parts. Gul Panag is a delight to see on screen as the wife of Hathiram. Panag, the woman who is torn between her duty towards her husband and son, and dealing with her fraud of a brother. Vipin Sharma, Jagjeet Sandhu, Niharika Lyra Dutt, Aasif Khan all play their parts believably.
Above all of this is the story of Paatal Lok. The series is well-written. The scenes shot in a glitzy newsroom to those in the bylanes of Punjab, all look real. However, some scenes require a trigger warning.
Paatal Lok leaves you asking for more. About that though, looks like we will have to wait a while till a Season 2 happens, if at all it does.