While Netflix keeps floundering with Indian movies and web series (only Hasmukh was decent at best among the recent output), Amazon Prime is rocking the boat and its latest offering, Paatal Lok, is only going to widen the gap. In fact, it may take a long time to bridge the gap given the sheer entertainment value, addictive nature and sheer quality on display in Anushka Sharma's OTT debut as a producer.
Scroll down for my full Paatal Lok review... What's it about
A down-on-his-luck Delhi cop, Hathi Ram Chaudhary (
Jaideep Ahlawat), from one of the worst jurisdictions, gets the case of his life when four criminals are nabbed before they can commit a high-profile murder. It seems like an open-and-shut case, guaranteed to confer him with a long-overdue promotion, but as he digs further, a web of deceit, danger, murder and mystery unfolds, eventually leading to Hathi Ram's suspension. However, at long last, he rediscover the crack cop lying dormant within, and with the help of his rookie subordinate, Ishwak Singh, decides to get to the bottom of the muck.
If you love investigative thrillers, and are looking for a web series in the same vein after Sacred Games (only season one) and Asur, then Paatal Lok should be right up your alley. It's unpredictably brilliant, leaves you transfixed with its stunning twists and turns, envelops you in the clutches of its characters and weaves a dark world that totally befits its title. No amount of praise can do justice to Director-duo Avinash Arun and Prosit Roy, their writers Sudip Sharma, Sagar Haveli, Hardik Mehta and Gunjit Chopra, or the ace cast of Jaideep Ahlawat, Neeraj Kabi, Ishwak Singh,
Gul Panag, Abhishek Banerjee, Swastika Mukherjee, Jagjeet Sandh, Asif Khan, Mairembam Ronaldo Singh, Niharika Lyra Dutt, Vipin Sharma and Rajesh Sharma — each actor does complete justice to their part, big or small. And kudos to Anushka Sharma for backing it all.
It's not just the grilling mystery and tantalising twists that leave you mesmerized. The show is also littered with arresting sub-texts on caste even among law enforcement, the circumstances in which criminals arose as a product of their surroundings, and dialogues that stay with you, haunt you. And it's been shot so well by Avinash Arun and Saurabh Goswami that you'd almost feel scared to venture into Delhi again while Sanyukta Kaza's editing ensure that you can't help but binge-watch all nine episodes at a go. It wouldn't be a stretch to say that this is even better than Asur and Sacred Games season 1 when it comes to web shows of the same mould.
Very little to crib about here. A few liberties are taken with the story and a plot contrivance here or there is made to move the narrative forward, but that's about it. Honestly, if this doesn't keep you engrossed at the very least, then you're an impossible person to please.
Amazon Prime's Paatal Lok is a masterpiece from start to finish. This is the kind of web series for which the term 'binge-watch' was coined. I'm going with 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5 out of 5
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