Swarg Ka Dwaar
The season 1 finale of Paatal Lok begins in the past with Tyagi’s Father consulting his horoscope. Only, the pandit tells him the future is unknown and his son’s horoscope is equally clouded in mystery, ominously revealing that only one will be able to kill him.
Back in the present, Om Ji drives Chaudhary away while Firangi holds a gun up to his head. An approaching car is just the distraction he needs though, and Chaudhary careers the car off the road and hurries away. He scrambles down to the carnival nearby and with a robe wrapped around him, he evades Om Ji and his men for a while but unfortunately its too much and he’s blindsided and attacked.
When he awakens, Chaudhary finds himself at the mercy of Gujjar who offers him water. As he asks just what Chaudhary has found out, Chaudhary spills the truth – Donullia has been dead for quite some time but this has been covered up. The only person of stature that knew about this was Bajpayee.
Now, Gujjar wanted to get into politics before Donullia’s death was made public but Bajpayee was against this. He was ready to face the wrath of defiance but for one man he genuinely feared – Tyagi. Bajpayee was the one who requested a team of four sent to Delhi for an assignment, with the real target being Tyagi. Police officers on Bajpayee’s pay-role were tailing their car at Sanjeev’s house for the inevitable to happen before striking. They had strict orders for a shoot-to-kill as soon as Tyagi pulled the trigger and killed Sanjeev.
Tyagi decided against the hit though and because of the Media Van arriving on the bridge during these climactic moments in the first episode, the cops couldn’t shoot. This puts Chaudhary in a difficult position as he knows too much. Gujjar puts the gun to his head and after a brief pause, he shoots Firangi.
Meanwhile, Sanjeev gives a speech to the news station and advises they have new management stepping in. Sara however is none too happy with this arrangement and hands in her letter of resignation. Only, she stops at the doorway as Chaudhary arrives at his office beaten and bruised. He tells him a story about dogs and how Dolly’s affection toward her dog actually saved his life and made Tyagi change his mind.
The final hammer blow comes in a simple one sentence story that Chaudhary tells Sanjeev, “This case is not about you”. He goes on to tell him the truth about the case, mocking him for his “Voice Of India” title and leaving him struggling to comprehend what he’s been told. When he returns home he genuinely thanks Dolly, although she doesn’t understand why.
Chaudhary returns to duty after his suspension has been revoked by headquarters. Thanks to helping reunite Gujjar and Bajpayee, he’s given his job back. As he sits with Bhagat they discuss this well-oiled machine and how he was assigned to this case as a nobody. With an interview on the horizon, Chaudhary picks up his friend Ansari and expresses how proud he is of him and drives him there, rounding out his character arc nicely from resenting him earlier in the show.
Meanwhile, Kaaliya meets Mary in prison who admits she got a sex change operation so she could marry him. It’s a big reveal and one that’s unfortunately usurped by Tyagi receiving a message from Gwala. He understands what this means and grabs a cop’s gun, turning it on everyone until he comes face to face with Chaudhary. As they stare one another down, he turns the gun on himself and pulls the trigger, reinforcing the earlier horoscope that only one can kill him – that one being himself.
Deciding to stick with the fake news and his own delusional world, Sanjeev spins the story that Tyagi’s death was merely a way out of appearing in court after his assassination attempt. A leopard certainly can’t change its spots.
As the episode closes out, Renu and Siddha share an ice-cream but as they do, he spots a dog and remembers the message about being a good man. Smiling, he watches as the dog licks up the ice-cream which he throws at it, which is where the series ends.
Paatal Lok bows out its 9 episode run with a consistently enjoyable and solidly written finale. The different characters are given some good conclusions, especially Sanjeev and Chaudhary, while the ambiguous open-ended nature of Tope Singh and Mary’s future is a nice touch to keep you wondering what happened to them when the credits roll. There’s been consistent themes throughout this of race and class issues and this continues right the way through to the final scenes.
From the cockroaches being crushed early on to the recurring motif surrounding dogs and their impact on the story, Paatal Lok has certainly peppered in a good amount of visual cues and depth to make for an artistic experience that some people will really enjoy picking apart. The flashback sequences have certainly helped too and complemented the politically charged reveal at the end, which was unexpected and put a lot of plot points into perspective.
It’s not perfect, and the show has had an issue with its pacing at times. Dolly, Sanjeev and Sara’s love triangle feels a bit shoe-horned and unnecessary but the ending involving Dolly’s dog and how she saved him because of her kindness is a satisfying bit of poetic irony that rounds their story out well, even if Sanjeev continues to exhibit his old habits at work.
Paatal Lok has been a really enjoyable crime thriller and while it may not be the best action flick of the year, it ends things just as strongly as it began making for a wholly satisfying experience.