Paatal Lok review: Brilliantly Black, Ambitiously Brave & Devastatingly Brutal

Paatal Lok poster

What: Dark crime series

Paatal Lok synopsis

A failed cynical cop Hathi Ram Chaudhary (Jaideep Ahlawat) one day gets a chance to crack a high profile case – murder attempt of celebrity television anchor/journalist Sanjeev Mehra (Neeraj Kabi). The case turns into a journey that penetrates into the dark dirty realm of the underworld, politics, and the powerful, the exploitation, molestation, casteism, religion, hate, the bloody brutal hell on this earth where immorality overwhelmingly wins over humanity.

Prime Video Paatal Lok series review

Those who have danced relished, cherished Netflix’s SACRED GAMES (first season) the dark intense, gritty series where Nawazuddin Siddiqui rightly said, “kabhi kabhi lagta hai apun hi bhagwan hai” (read best crime series), gets a solid challenge from hell. Prime Video’s PAATAL LOK created by Sudip Sharma produced by Clean Slate Films is a penetrating blast of immorality, loyalty, humanity, casteism, secularism, that whips your confront zone and pokes your soul while the devastating images of exploitation, molestation lingers on your mind. A sensational stunner that goes beyond a mystically enjoyable de noir whodunit cop criminal drama.         

PAATAL LOK is a ‘toast’ to David Fincher, Tarantino, Bhardwaj, Kashyap dipped in the desi bhundelkhandi thara that keep you intoxicated for long even after the last episode ends.

Completely Indian, PAATAL LOK traces the brazen badlands of Bhundelkhand –that spreads from UP to MP where lies Chambal – the hideout of those dreaded Phoolon Devi, the rebel Paan Singh and many more in reality and those Mangal Singh, etc in our mainstream cinema. From Delhi, to Bundelkhand.

A classic noir wrapped in a powerfully hard hitting caste drama NH10 writer Sudip Sharma, creates a stunning web which comes alive by the terrific execution by the director duo Avinash Arun and Prosit Roy.

With the rawness of NH10 director Navdeep Singh coming in giving that killing edge PAATAL LOK is a thinking writer director series which is at the same time selfishly hungry in making the audience shocked and awed both at the same time.

Starting from a cynical tease where Hathi Ram Chaudhary (Jaideep Ahlawat) differentiates Swarg (heaven), Dharti (earth) and Paatal (netherworld) in Delhi Noida, NCR, those ‘jamuna par areas’ – a person from Delhi will easily identify and it’s not difficult for other viewer either. They get the jest. Gritty interrogations, pulse rising chases, stark revelations PAATAL LOK is hell of a ride (am repeating myself but can,t help).


Jaideep Ahlawat gives the performance of his lifetime. His best till date. He is just terrific. Neeraj Kabi is a class apart. Gul Panag excels in a role that finds meaning later and it’s marvelously stitched across this dark ugly yarn. Abhishek Banerjee is a stunner. Ishwak Singh fabulous. Other valuable support comes from Swastika Mukherjee, Niharika Lyra Dutt, Jagjeet Sandhu, Aasif Khan, Bodhisattva Sharma, Mairembam Ronaldo Singh and Anindita Bose.

Special for Vipin Sharma, Asif Basra, Manish Chaudhary and Rajesh Sharma is a must.

Anup Jalota as the shrewd politician and the kids - Albert Wangkhem and Ayaan Ahmad spin in with some unexpected surprise.


Technically flawless with crisp editing by Sanyukta Kaza, cinematography an act of sheer brilliance by Avinash Arun and Saurabh Goswami. Music by Naren Chandavarkar and Benedict Taylor blends well. Art direction by Vahi Shaikh     , production design by Mukund Gupta nothing short of an achievement. Special mention to the casting directors - Anmol Ahuja, Abhishek Banerjee, Kirti Kolwankar and Maria Tharakan.


It’s a dark disturbing mirror, we don,t wont to look. Those who love escapisms and have a weak stomach for gritty intense and dark genres will not accept at all. The cuss words could have been minimized. The Punjab influence is not very clear, the character from Punjab also gets sidelined during the final episodes.

Scene that should deleted at once

The child molestation scene should have been shown in a better way.

Any dialogues in PAATAL LOK that you will use in life

Yes, quite a few. For example – waise toh shastron mein likha hai, par maine whatts up par pada and that which may become a tagline for animal specially dog lovers -  When a dog loves a man, he is a good man

When a man loves a dog, he is a good man

Bottom line

PAATAL LOK will find haters and lovers both in abundance. But even the haters who have some knowledge of filmmaking and consider it as an art and not just a

material/tool/medium to please and earn will applaud the incredible brilliance and passion behind this modern Indian dark, gritty de noir classic. That’s the super power of PAATAL

LOK. PAATAL LOK grabs you by the lapels up to your balls and refuses to let go?.

Missing this will be a crime


Rating : 4/5

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About Filmi Ilmi

Filmi Ilmi

A a vagabond, seeker, explorer, writer, movie critic, doesn't believe in destination just enjoys the journey post on FB/cineblues/ More By Filmi Ilmi

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