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PAATAL LOK – Exploring the underbelly of Law Enforcing agencies

Paatal Lok poster

One of the recent releases on Amazon Prime that is fast catching up in popularity in these lock down times, where the mind is thirsting for something new after having gone thru all the also-rans of yesteryear is Amazon’s original web series.

As per ancient Hindu Scriptures there are 14 realms or lokas. The seven above ground and 7 below the ground and Patal Lok is the lower most place of the realms and many consider it to be hell itself.

The crime thriller web series Paatal Lok comes as a breath of fresh air, with good production values and screenplay unlike many other web series in recent times which seem to be like quickies to whet the appetite of ever demanding audiences and hurriedly shot episodes.

This is not so with Paatal Lok that is shot with an air of lazy elegance with it’s each shot taking the story forward at its leisurely but definitive pace. The story shows the underbelly of our law enforcement agencies.

The story begins with the ATS Team getting the tip of four contract killers hired to eliminate a high profile news anchor Sanjeev Mehra (played by Neeraj Kabi who is the now familiar face in web series). Though he is not in his usual element in this series during some parts it is quite evident that Neeraj Kabi may not have put in his heart in the character that he is playing.

Unfortunately for the ATS team, they are not able to eliminate them in an encounter as planned since the Media crew is around at place of the incident.

Having just arrested them, the ATS had to hand over the criminals to Delhi Police and the Officer in charge is Hathiram Choudhary (Jaideep Ahlawat who is in such a top form).

Jaideep Ahlawat has portrayed the mis-opportuned cop going after lowlife criminals to the hilt, but this hi-profile case is a Godsend opportunity to redeem his own low life and push himself into a league apart.

Hence he puts in his all abilities, ably aided by his minority religion deputy (deliberately shown minority to exploit that angle about how they are made a scapegoat in the force whenever anything goes awry in the investigation process involving persons of the minority community). A cliche often seen before Bollywood… there you are.

Each character is built from ground up meticulously in various flashback modes with the reasoning for their present day psyche.

It includes the four killers why they are, what they are, some of them accidental criminals and some hardened and then the cop himself fighting his own demons as a family man and his senior who was a junior to him in the force.

As is now so common in the web series, the usage of profanity and cuss words has been used generously, though thankfully the other sin of sex that is used in the other series so liberally, but here it seems strictly as per need and that too in a suggestive basis thankfully with not much of skin show. Yet these moments are hard- hitting and mind numbing with the village gang rape scene in particular.

At places Paatal Lok plays with the sensibilities of the viewer what with the gory homicide with a hammer in school premises with a particular scene where the brain spills out and all.

With several stark scenes, this series is courting controversies is not a surprise. After watching all this, one wonders whether this is this Present time India? No wonder such criminals and such aggressive reactions that we see from people of mofussil towns and villages where things have advanced but the general mentality has not.

Those living in our homes in big cities are fortunate to be slightly above all this. All in all Paatal Lok is a logically riveting series which one would like to binge watch in these times.

As far as acting goes, each of the characters has put in a sincere effort else it would not have been worthy of the hype the makers have created around it. Yet some top class artists are wasted like Gul Panag who it seems is revising her ‘Manorama Six feet under’ role.

What prompted the renowned Bhajan Samraat and Padmashree awardee Anup Jalota to play a politician in this web series?

Review by Pawan Gupta

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