Sudip Sharma has a unique way in which he subtly includes a particular element in the latter part of the drama like he added ‘kids’ in Sonchiriya and connects everything in the end quite marvelously.
Creator: Sudip Sharma
Writers: Sudip Sharma, Sagar Haveli, Hardik Mehta, Gunjit Chopra
Directors: Avinash Arun, Prosit Roy
Cast: Jaideep Ahlawat, Neeraj Kabi, Abhishek Banerjee, Niharika Lyra Dutt, Swastika Mukherjee
Amazon Prime’s new limited series Paatal Lok unofficially based on Tarun Tejpal ‘s Story of My Assassin’s is enthralling, brave and a modern masterpiece in the genre of thrilling crime-drama series.
The show starts with a scene in which the Outer Jamuna Police is going on a patrol, one of the senior inspector ( Hathiram) narrates the cosmology according to a WhatsApp message, he tells this to a rookie who is an aspiring IPS officer that Delhi, like the universe, is divided into three realms, Swarg Lok ( upper class, affluent people), Dharti Lok( middle class, working people) and Pataal Lok and tells that all they get are cases from Paatal Lok where insects live and no one gives a damn about dying insects ( insects here indicate small crime goons, gangsters and the lower castes which are usually ignored). A few moments later, four goons are arrested over the bridge on the Yamuna and the case is handed to Hathiram Chaudary. Soon it is revealed that the goons were trying to kill a Prime-time journalist Sanjay Mehra. The proceedings of the investigation are very much similar to Netflix’s Delhi Crime as Hathiram and his partner Ansari take a deep dive in the past(s) of all the goons, traveling the untapped villages to know the real mastermind behind this failed assassination attempt in the most authentic way possible and to show the side of India that the people living in the cities don’t usually see.
All the goons have a history of violence or injustice they faced which transformed them into what they are now and the police then slowly investigates and tries to make a chain of events, and every event pops out a new name. But, this is the first inter-realm case for Hathiram, as he progresses a few steps in the investigation, he is soon pulled back because of a mess created either by his subordinates or the over – smartness of people in his so-called Swarg Lok. He is also troubled because of the problems in his house. His son is heading towards a wrong life because he is friends with a cadre of hooligans. Gradually, this case looks to be slipping away from the hands of Hathiram. But his determination to crack the case, not for the system but for being a respected man in the eyes of his son, drives him to work on the case, no matter what happens. There is also an interesting vibe of Fincher’s Zodiac as well when a media outlet’s manager Sara, also having an affair with Sanjay Mehra, investigates the leads on her own but that isn’t continued for a long time.
Injustice be it any goon’s case reflect the state of different situations in current times, it is shown in such a bravely, yet horrifying manner that you may look away from the screen still, deep down in your heart you know all this does happen for real. Steadily, the show expands its dimensions as the case is seen to be linked to terrorism, manhunt, democracy, murder and injustice against transgender and Muslims. Ansari ( Ishwar Singh ) who as a Muslim amateur cop is constantly faced with discrimination and comments like ” Aajkal inn ki minority community se kafi young IPS officers aa rahe hai, acha hai aise hi inki community ka naam sudhrega ” or ” Tera toh hojayega bhai akhir unhe bhi minority ko chance Diya yeh dikhana padta hai. ”
Interestingly Sudip Sharma, writer of previous year’s hidden gem Sonchiriya and highly acclaimed Udta Punjab, in this intriguing venture he puts animals and insects in the mainframe. He has a unique way in which he subtly includes a particular element in the latter part of the drama like he added ‘kids’ in Sonchiriya and connects everything in the end quite marvelously. Be it Hathiram ‘s explanation of Paatal Lok and then just after a few scenes we see a cockroach being stamped to the floor. Then cut to the importance of dogs and how dogs alone help to judge someone’s character and how they play a huge role in the end. Then in another scene, we see Tope Singh calling himself “a dog who would do anything to get his cat (girlfriend).”
Casting director Abhishek Banerjee plays the role of Vishal aka ” Hathoda” Tyagi doesn’t even blink once and carried his posture and personality until the very end thus, presented a masterclass performance. Jaideep Ahlawat knows exactly how to carry the look of a working-class cop and act like one in different situations, his performance was the best, certainly after so long he got the role he actually deserves. Ishwar Singh as a sincere cop was satisfying and Neeraj Kabri played the journalist who changes agendas quite brilliantly. The supporting cast played a great role especially Swastika Mukherjee as Sanjay ‘s wife Dolly, who goes to Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō meetings for positivity and overcoming anxiety, she displays her flimsy personality beautifully. Dialogues are very brilliant as they hold the intensity of the plot and weightage of different situations creatively. The background score in chase scenes and long suspenseful scenes is engaging.
Overall, Paatal Lok is an amazing limited series that blends topics prevalent in current times in a gritty crime drama.
FINAL VERDICT – Spectacular in all aspects. A MUST WATCH.