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Paatal Lok Shows a Society Intertwined in Heinous Web of Lies, Crime and Violence


Last Updated: June 03, 2020, 19:56 IST

Paatal Lok Shows a Society Intertwined in Heinous Web of Lies, Crime and Violence

The show promises to take us into a terrifying world divided along class lines, literally and figuratively.

After writing films like Udta Punjab, NH10 and Sonchiriya, Sudip Sharma has ventured into the web space with his maiden series, Paatal Lok. The show wears the trademark of Sudip's writing - thrilling story told in a gritty narrative - as is evident from the trailer that released earlier this week.

This is Sudip's second collaboration with Anushka Sharma's production house Clean Slate Films, after exploring the subject of honour killing with her in NH10. The IIM-A graduate is rather enjoying the new space he has found on the web, which gives him more scope to tell a story in detail.

The posters and teaser of Paatal Lok have several violent scenes. The promos and graphics have definitely been designed to shock. Sudip explains the concept, the graphic imagery as well as the amount of violence that the show indulges in.

What is the basic storyline of Pataal Lok?

There is an attack on the life of a primetime TV journalist and four people are nabbed by the Delhi Police. The case lands up in the hands of this one particular officer, who is our protagonist. He's told that it's an open and shut case, there is nothing more to pursue. But something about it doesn't seem right to him, and as he starts investigating, he realizes that there is more to it than meets the eye. It draws him into this pursuit of truth, which leads him to the dark nether world, to pataal lok, so to speak. He makes some shocking discoveries in the past of the four suspects as well as the victim who was the primetime journalist.

What is the concept behind the Swarg, Dharti and Paatal Lok in the series?

The idea behind this show was to explore India and the various divides that run through India, in the form of an engaging drama thriller. You see divides of caste, class, geography all the time in India. This story allowed us a window into each one of them. The four suspects in the show, their backstories tell you a little bit about each one of these divides. One has been through caste politics, another one has been through religious politics, geography, class, all of that.

We're trying to explore three Indias that kind of exist simultaneously - a privileged upper class where the journalist comes from, the middle India where the inspector/investigator comes from and then the Paatal Lok where the four suspects come from. These three worlds occasionally collide and then there is an explosion, which is what the show is about - one particular case which leads to an explosion of truth and revelations.

Where is the show set?

The show is set in Delhi, the most important reason being that I don't think there is any other city in India which gives you the same kind of contrast, the same kind of sharp realities of these three worlds that we are talking about. Delhi is the seat of power in India, from where more than a billion people are ruled. It has old money and new money. Given its location, it also has the feel of a very frontier town in a way that no other metro in India has - Western UP on one side, Haryana on the other, Noida, Gurgaon, Ghaziabad and all that comes alongwith it. With the crime, the migrant population, the sharp inequalities, Delhi just seemed the right fit for this. So that was our setting, but the show travels to the hinterlands, to Chitrakoot, which is the border of MP and UP. It also travels to Punjab.

Violence seems inherent in your scripts – NH10, Udta Punjab, and now Paatal Lok...

Violence in whatever I write is never meant for titillation. The idea of violence in NH10 was to make it look repulsive, to make you flinch, which is what should be the purpose of violence on screen. I would not want violence to be glorified, personally. What you're seeing right now, is a very small glimpse of what the entire show is about. It's not really as violent it looks like in the teaser. We are also trying to look at the inner worlds of these characters, what it means to be a cop in Delhi, what it means to be fighting crime, and then go back home and listen to your wife talk about her day, your son who says he needs more pocket money. So there is more to this world than the violence.

Given that you have more room to play in a show, you can actually delve into all these elements, rather than just the thriller and violence. I would say this is probably the least violent of all the projects I think I've done. There are occasional bursts of very sharp and repugnant violence. But it’s a drama thriller designed to keep you engaged with emotions like fear, anger, intrigue and things like that. It's not purely violence.

It's releasing at a time when more people are turning to OTT platforms for entertainment...

I really hope it provides some sort of engaging entertainment in these times, when people have been in their homes for months. This is something unprecedented in our lives, none of us have ever seen such a time. And if in any way this show can engage them for 8-9 hours and give them something to think about, everybody in the team will be very happy.

Paatal Lok will stream on Amazon Prime Video from May 15.

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first published:May 07, 2020, 11:52 IST
last updated:June 03, 2020, 19:56 IST