Bridges – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Lost & Found – | Review Score – 3.5/5
A History Of Violence – | Review Score – 4/5
Sleepless in Seelampur – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Of Fathers And Sons – | Review Score – 4/5
The Past Is Prologue – | Review Score – 4/5
Badlands – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Black Widow – | Review Score – 4/5
Swarg Ka Dwaar – | Review Score – 4/5
Paatal Lok is an interesting and politically charged crime thriller, one of those shows you’ll either love or loathe depending on how you feel about the messaging running through the heart of this one. With a plot line leaning heavily on preconceptions about Muslims and painting the everyday Indian in a negative light, Paatal Lok will almost certainly ruffle feathers and turn people away. That’s a shame because if you can take to the story, Paatal Lok actually has some pretty decent plot beats and alongside some interesting editing, makes for an enjoyable 9 episode series.
The first episode sets the scene and introduces us to the various characters we’ll be following over the season. A group of assassins are stopped from killing a political journalist known as Sanjeev and it’s up to officer Chaudhary to get to the bottom of who hired these guys and more crucially – why. Across the 9 episodes the series peppers in numerous flashback segments to flesh out the past while progressing the investigation. As the series reaches the business end of the narrative, shocking truths are revealed that uncover a much more sinister and surprising turn of events before wrapping things up nicely at the end.
Those looking for something to rival Sacred Games, especially given the amount of publicity this Indian series has received, will almost certainly be disappointed. Paatal Lok certainly doesn’t hit those same heights but it does have enough in the tank to make for an enjoyable watch nonetheless. The pacing is consistent, especially in the second half when things become more intense and urgent, while the flashback segments help to flesh out the past and shed light on just why Sanjeev was targeted by this group.
A lot of the series relies heavily on handheld cameras and a gritty depiction of India with plenty of bustling marketplaces, religious gatherings and busy roads adding to the authenticity of thevisuals. There’s a lot of exciting set pieces here too and given this is on Amazon Prime, seeing the trivia around how these were shot is absolutely fascinating and helps to add another layer to this show.
Paatal Lok certainly doesn’t outstay its welcome either and it’s one of those rare shows that knows exactly when to bow out without injecting filler. The story has enough themes to keep you thinking, with a consistent narrative surrounding class, sex and politics that runs right the way through the show. This is reinforced through some of the graphic imagery and whether it be a man going on a rampage with a hammer or an Indian mob beating down a family of Muslims, Paatal Lok certainly doesn’t shy away from these powerful statements of intent.
With a satisfying climax and some decent episodes dotted in along the way, Paatal Lok is an enjoyable, self-contained crime thriller that’s certainly worth a watch. It may not be the best in this genre this year, nor is it the best series to come out of India for 2020. What Paatal Lok does, it does really well with a polished, refined story and lots of thought provoking imagery to pick out. Of course, because of its political slant it won’t be for everyone but for those who can take to the series, Paatal Lok is much closer to Heaven than it is the bowels of the netherworld.
Published: 23 May 2020 at 07:58 am on TheReviewGeek.com
Verdict - 7.5/10