Paatal Lok denotes the Netherlands.
An exaggeration in the case of this pucca desi crime thriller series showing on Amazon Prime, right now.
The politics and the dirt and the sleaze in the business of the police, the media, the underworld, the mafia, hitmen, killers and everything else shown here is what we know as the truth, that exists in these worlds.
We would not call it a trip to another world, or the nether regions, because that is an illusionist, fantastical world.
Here, it depicts hard hitting, ever present reality so nothing too surreal about it. The cinematography, however, does try to take us to another dimension of the mind where all that exists is fear and a life where crime is normal.
The story is good and gripping. The script is excellent. The actors are mediocre except for one or two.
However, the picturisation, the story telling, the director’s vision is in so many ways, stuck in a rut here, in this series. When you are expecting some fast paced action and results, it gets into a dogged, slovenly pace.
The lead actor (Jaideep Ahlawat) who plays Inspector Hathi Ram Chaudhary is the ever suffering low profile ‘chutiya’ cop as he calls himself. And predictably he needs to redeem himself from a life of ignominy.
As is the case with most fallen heroes who need that one case to bring back their self esteem and pride in their job, he plods on wearily. So much so that at many times, you, the viewer also start doubting whether he’s ever going to get his act together. Good act there? Sometimes.
However his lack lustre job renders him lack lustre as an actor too. At times, he seems almost in a coma, a stupor that he needs to be roused from and told to get on with it.
He will then probably ask you, in a beleaguered vein, as to what his job was. So you then remind him, he’s playing a cop with personal and professional troubles and he needs to get some ‘josh’ in him, to set things right. That’s when he wakes up!
In between the laughs and sleepiness, you also sympathise with him. I actually made a resolution to stop thinking about doing good deeds for the poor and needy and instead focus on bettering the lot of the Indian police. With you, for you, always?
The erratic, slow, at times jumbled up filmmaking render this, a fine story stuck at the wheels that needs a gigantic push. Poor Hathi Ram. Sweet guy but not very impressive. No sparks there.
On the other hand, the actor (Neeraj Kabi), who plays journalist Sanjeev Mehra is faultless in his role of a veteran scribe who thinks no end of himself but is now battling sinking fortunes with his TV channel and is ready to do anything to revive it, including selling fake news.
This too is a reality and I have quite a few big names in my mind, as to on whom Mehra’s character is modelled, being a journalist myself, seeing the action up close and personal for many years at a stretch.
Mehra is the typical hotshot, suave, erudite journo. He sells fake news, has affairs with younger girls, is concerned about his ailing wife but ready to leave her and spend the whole night in a bar or at his partners place when her anxiety issues get too much. No supportiveness here. No apologies either. Just the way he is. True to life a character if I ever saw one.
And the plot? A few criminals have been rounded up up after a plot to assassinate the said journalist goes wrong.
And then starts the descent into the background of the supposed killers. Why were they hired to kill Sanjeev Mehra. Who are they?
Bone chilling would be an understatement for the portrayal of the main villain by Abhishek Banerjee, essaying the role of a psychopath ‘Hathoda Tyagi.’ He kills with a hammer, never missing his aim and his victims brains ruptured by the hammer, is definitely not a pretty sight. You need to avert your gaze here. A lot of blood, gore and shivers up your spine definitely.
Otherwise it is a riveting watch. At times also slow and stretched. And if you’re watching the series with someone, you will, like me, lose track of what is happening and ask, hello..where were we…and other such inane questions.
Highly confusing at times with unclear story telling.
But given the fact that most webseries under lockdown hasnt lived up to expectations, it’s okay to settle for second best, at least where true blue Indian crime thrillers are concerned.
Go desi sometimes, will you.
Journalists would enjoy the realism of the media circus shown here. I did. With a few brakes applied, in between.