By Linus Garg
First publised on 2020-05-18 22:33:58
It came without much hype but hypnotized the viewers with its taut storyline and amazing performances. Yes, I am talking about Prime Video's new show Paatal Lok. All of us have seen many crime thrillers in the recent past. Series like Specials Ops, Hostages, Delhi Crime, Criminal Justice and Sacred Games were all top-notch. But Pataal Lok, with its focus primarily on the case at hand, does not digress into unnecessary sub-plots and holds viewer attention throughout. Although it has an egoistic TV editor, an anxiety-ridden wife in love with dogs, a Maoist-type gangster, a Muslim policemen who is discriminated against for his religion but who is on the verge of becoming an IPS officer, a son who hates his father and a girl trapped in a boy's body, these are woven into the story with such finesse that the viewer is never bored.
Inspector Hathiram Choudhary, played superbly by Jaideep Ahlawat, is considered a loser in the police force. His friend who once trained under him is now his boss as the SHO in the police station. When the other inspector is on leave, he gets a high profile case as the DCP thinks he will not solve it. But Hathiram has to prove himself as he tells his wife "aadhi zindagi baap ki ankhon mein dekha ki uska beta ch**** hai, ab baki ki zindagi bete ki ankhon mein nahin dekhna chahta ki uska baap ch**** hai." He follows all leads diligently and uncovers a plot that goes far beyond his brief. His journey, which he undertakes even after being suspended, is filled with gangsters and the twisted politics of rural India across several states and it makes for a riveting watch, especially with Ahlawat in full flow. He does not miss a single cue and gives an astonishing performance as the harried cop who wants to redeem himself.
The plot is simple to start with. Four persons are arrested just before they could commit a murder. The investigation is handed over to Hathiram Choudhary as the area falls under the jurisdiction of his police station. But when he starts investigating the case, it takes him deep into the world of both the rich and the powerful as well as rural gang lords, men who take to crime by accident and a maniacal killer who avenges the rape of his sisters by killing the rapist with a blow of the hammer on their heads, earning the title hathoda Tyagi. In comes a mysterious Masterji, a cross between a Maoists leader and a gangster and politicians. Illicit affairs, machinations in the corridors of the television channels and political string-pulling follow. Hathiram uncovers a plot that goes far beyond a murder.
Apart from the excellent technical team, the series is made livelier by its cast. Gul Panag as Hathiram's wife, in a de-glam role, puts in an inspired performance. Neeraj Kabi as the channel editor is simply outstanding and so is Swastika Mukherjee as his dog-loving wife who has bouts of anxiety. But the surprise package is Abhishek Banerjee as Vishal 'Hathoda' Tyagi. Although a good actor, his silent and maniacal killer who comes to life either when he has a hammer in his hand or when someone does something bad to dogs is simply an amazing act. Watch the series and I am sure it will turn out to be a big, binge watch for you.