Updated: May 23, 2020
Pataal Lok is a series where a 6 yr old is forced into blow jobs, 8 year olds casually talk about pregnancy,15 year olds make out in their school toilets, a prisoner masturbates openly over a transgender prisoner, a married woman is raped in front of her father, people are murdered with a hammer, the word BC is used liberally like the aloo in the sabzi.
However, Paatal Lok is also a series where a serial killer has humanity, the Mahabharat is quoted often, a wife gives her infidel husband another chance, WhatsApp forwards have mythological stories, a woman embraces motherhood in her dog's pregnancy, people fight against caste oppression, minorities are encouraged,and altruistic love is conveyed as the narrative undercurrent.
"Ye ek nahin, teen duniya hain, sabse upar Swarg Lok jisme devta rahte hain, beech mein Dharti Lok jisme aadmi rahte hain, aur sabse neeche Paatal Lok jisme keede rahte hain” - the series begins with this line. The entire story is about how the lives, sensibilities, and idiosyncrasies of people from each of these worlds intersect and the consequences there of.
Coming to the core plot, four criminals are nabbed by the Delhi Police for a suspected murder attempt on the famous journalist Sanjeev Mehra (played by Neeraj Kabi with stoic intensity). The case is then handed over for investigation to Hathiram Choudary (played by Jaideep Ahlawat with effortless ease). Hathiram is a subordinate to his junior and has remained in the same rank since decades and considers this case as his shot at redemption and a chance to prove his capabilities. He puts his heart and soul into it as this could be his last attempt at rising above the mediocrity he is associated with. Accompanying him is Ansari (played by Ishwak Singh), a Muslim who has cleared the civils and aims to become an IPS officer.
The duo complement each other like water and milk, i.e. they are good in appropriate proportions, and bad if disproportionate. They have their good and bad moments. They take the right decisions, pursue the right leads and just when they begin to make something out of the case, their world comes crashing down. Leads are knocked down, proofs are erased, and they are played by the forces around them. This downfall reaches it’s abyss when Hathiram is suspended for his unintentional fuck ups and the case is handed over to the CBI. How he solves this case despite these hardships forms the crux of the plot.
The best part about Paatal Lok has to be the character development. I loved the way each character was fleshed out and had a distinguishable arc.The motherhood of Sanjeev’s wife, the new found love & respect of Hathiram's son towards his father, the fight against fake news by Sara, and Hathiram's wife's courage at going against her brother for taking her on a ride. These are characters from the Swarg and Dharti lok. The characters from the so called Paatal lok have a traumatic past, leading to the difficult present and no guarantee for a happy future.
The screenplay follows a non linear narrative toggling between the characters pasts and setting up the context for the present. The part of screenplay that seemed very satisfying is the way each character had an invisible internal struggle eating them away while they are fighting the visible beasts outside. The technical aspects too were top notch with the production values high and uncompromising.
My only complain is that there are some shots that they could have done away with and still conveyed the emotion . Rest is GREAT content.
You just start watching it and the story will suck you in like quick sand, and the only way to come out is staying in. Kudos to the entire cast, crew and Anushka Sharma for supporting good content. Essential to put India on the global map in terms of quality content .
Actually in the end I started wondering and felt that the people in swarg lok are just keede masquerading as devta, people in dharti lok – some had the will to climb up and some took the choice to stoop down, if given a chance would unleash the beast (keede) within and the people in Paatal lok- are they keede because of their actions or their past or their environment or their suffering or a combination of all these.
The makers have aptly named the series as Paatal lok instead of Swarg or Dharti lok coz irrespective of which lok the characters are from there are instances of keede type beastly nature by every character in the series.
Finally, if I were the director I would end the series with this dialogue “Ye ek nahin, teen duniya hain, sabse upar swarg lok jisme aadmi rahte hain, beech mein dharti lok jisme aadmi rahte hain, aur sabse neeche Paatal lok jisme bhi aadmi hi rahte hain”. For there is no beast worser than man. Aise WhatsApp pe padha tha.
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