In recent years, prestige television in India has largely translated to expansive crime dramas with political heft. In that sense, the new Amazon Prime series Pataal Lok appears rooted in familiar terrain. The show follows a tense, cross-country investigation into the attempted murder of a primetime journalist.
Its framing metaphor, established in promos, alludes to the mythic realms of heaven, earth, and hell. But crime and mythology figure among the show’s many layers, which seeks to examine the complex fault lines of Indian society. “I resisted the long-form for quite some time,” says series creator Sudip Sharma.
I can simply say that this is the best Crime and suspense Indian web series till now. You will be in suspense all the time and yet connected to the story. The story is so well written that at any point in time you will not feel missing or disconnected.
I really like how they have given a mythological touch to the narration and the story. Swarg (heaven), Dharti (earth), and Paatal (netherworld), straight out of mythology, are part of the day to day reality; chasms that are unbridgeable. These disparities go the extent of infiltrating the cop universe as well with those assigned to Outer Yamuna far more lowly in the hierarchy and duty than the ones serving in Lutyen’s Delhi.
A bunch of characters jostles for our attention, and as the ambitious journalist who is happy to swing whichever way the wind blows, Neeraj Kabi is efficient. His anxiety-ridden wife (Mukherjee) starts off shaky but is given more to do as it goes along. There’s an idealistic reporter (Dutt, leaving an impact) in the mix, looking for a moral center in the murk, too. But the man of the series is, undoubtedly, Jaideep Ahlawat. His Hathi Ram Chaudhary is a man of many parts: exasperated and tender with his wife (Panag, ably supportive), and unsure father with a rebellious teenage son, and desperate to get that one case that will make him come up tops. The craggy-faced-Ahlawat aces it, each line of his face denoting a life lived, making even the more unbelievable parts of this thing believable.
His pairing with rookie Ansari is your classic hard-boiled, experienced senior showing the ropes to a wide-eyed junior, but we get more than the trope. Ansari being Muslim gives the series a chance to show us discrimination and dislike of the other. We also get religion, caste, politics, violence, corruption, and power-play at all levels, whether it is in tony South Delhi or in dust-ridden rural areas: some of the most powerful parts of Pataal Lok are set in rural Punjab, and Chitrakoot, an ancient town which gets its nous from being the place Lord Ram made a stop-over at on his way to Lanka. And we get a great line from a local cop: ‘Bhagwan Ram (nahin kar paaye) toh yeh Ramavtaar kya cheez hai.’ Some of these lines have heft, making up for such clunky ones as: ‘Who are these people? They are us’. Full marks to the character for saying this seriously.
Even not so prominent characters like Swastika Mukherjee’s Dolly and Gul Panag’s Renu leave a significant impact on the story. They keep adding new dimensions to Hathiram Chaudhary’s evolution. In fact, Panag’s excellent understanding of human behavior comes to the fore when she confronts her brother for using her. No extra drama, but painfully penetrating.
Series don’t have anything which is above the sky, its just a simple story and sticks to the end. They have covered everything in the story from harsh life migrant labors, crimes against dalits, women empowerment, Muslim minority, dirty politics of the country, politics in media, the life of a journalist, police investigation, a bit of LGBT community and a lot more.
Writer or Director has shown and completed the journey of each character. Wheater its Savitri(Sanjeev Mehra’s pet) or Sidharth(Hathiram’s son), they have shown the complete story of character and linked it with the main story.
Main Story revolve around Hathram(Police inspector outer jamunapar thana) investigating about 4 criminals who were planning to murder a prominent journalist named Sanjeev Mehra.
Jaideep Ahlawat(Hathiram), this is the role of a lifetime for him. His expressions don’t drop for a second even if he is chasing a goon with a duffle bag on his shoulders. He is the binding force to assemble all the clues and cues in one place. He takes the center stage only after the fifth episode, but once he does it, he absolutely nails it. It’s difficult to think anybody else in the character after Ahlawat.
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