Pataal Lok is a fascinating series but also one that’s warranted quite the divisive reaction from audiences across the world. Regardless of this though, Amazon Prime’s latest Indian crime thriller gets off to a really good start with a decent mystery interwoven through some exciting scenes and a nice foundation set this early on for its main characters to build on.
Although it is a little slow to start, the tense musical score and Chaudhary’s relatable persona as an everyday man thrust into this role should be enough to keep you watching this one.
Episode 1 of Pataal Lok begins with our cops talking about the three universes, including the “Paatal Lok” which is the netherworld. As the police continue to discuss the cockroaches in Outer Jaamar Paar, they’re called to a domestic disturbance which is business as usual for these officers.
Meanwhile, three men and a woman purposefully leave a hotel but on the road they’re chased by an undercover police car that corners them on the bridge and holds them up at gunpoint, bringing the chase to a standstill. Before they’re arrested, one of them throws a yellow phone off the bridge into the water below.
In the aftermath of this, Dahiya introduces Inspector Chaudhary to the four accused who are detained and taken down to the station under charges of conspiracy to murder. Once there, Constables Bhati and Taki speak to the men and demand to know their names.With all of them remaining tight-lipped, Manju Verma takes the female aside and forces her to strip down while slapping her numerous times.
With the lead investigator off on holiday, Chaudhary is promoted and tasked with leading the team into finding out exactly who these men were tasked with murdering. News of their target leaks to the press who catch wind that journalist Sanjeev Mehra is the one they were after. The news rocks Sanjeev too, who contemplates whether he’ll be able to go on-air or not in the wake of what’s happened.
Deciding not to run the story for now,, Sanjeev heads home but finds press swarming around his house, causing quite the disturbance for his partner Dolly who remains stuck in the house, suffering with some serious anxiety. Unable to deal with the stress of it, Sanjeev instead heads to a bar alone and starts drinking until one of his colleagues, Sara Matthews, approaches him and they share a drink.
Back in the station, Chaudhary starts going through the belongings for the men they captured, determined to find out just who they are. Getting nowhere, he heads back home and discusses his new job to his wife, believing if he can crack the case he could be looking at a promotion soon.
The next day Jai Hind phones through for an update where Chaudhary reveals they’ve uncovered the name of one of the men – Tope Singh. Believing he’s the ringleader, Chaudhary works to try and pin something substantial on the man by heading over and speaking to Sanjeev. Once there, he asks if he has any old enemies or people he suspects may have a grudge against him. Unfortunately he doesn’t get anywhere but back at the station they hit a breakthrough.
After obtaining the captured suspects’ names, Ansari starts to run those against that of the car they were driving. It turns out these names are far from clean, with one of the men Tyagi known as the infamous “hammer”; a notorious felon who’s well known for kidnapping, extortion and all manner of other unpleasant acts. As he and Ansari visit his cell, he looks up and holds his hands up, which is where the episode ends.
With strong foundational work built, the cinematography and general editing of this series remains pretty good but it’s the story that really drives this one forward. Trying to work out just who these three men are is a nice hook to keep you watching and the familiarity of Chaudhary as a fresh pair of eyes into this role is reflected through us watching this too, which is a nice touch.
The symbolic nature of the cockroach being squashed by the officer is certainly one of the stand-out scenes though and reinforces the earlier conversation the police officers had about the three layers of the universe. With lots of questions hanging over this one when the credits roll, Paatal Lok gets off to a pretty decent start here.