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Paatal Lok

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Paatal Lok
Paatal Lok poster.jpg
Promotional poster
GenreCrime Thriller
Created bySudip Sharma
Written bySudip Sharma
Sagar Haveli
Hardik Mehta
Gunjit Chopra
Directed byAvinash Arun
Prosit Roy
Composer(s)Naren Chandavarkar
Benedict Taylor
Country of originIndia
Original language(s)Hindi
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes9
Producer(s)Anushka Sharma
Karnesh Sharma
Production location(s)India
CinematographyAvinash Arun
Saurabh Goswami
Editor(s)Sanyukta Kaza
Running time43-53 Minutes
Production company(s)Clean Slate Films
Original networkAmazon Video
Original release15 May 2020 (2020-05-15)

Paatal Lok (English: Underworld) is an Indian Hindi-language crime thriller web television series which premiered on Amazon Prime Video on 15 May 2020.[1] It is produced by Clean Slate Films, and stars Jaideep Ahlawat, Gul Panag, Neeraj Kabi, Swastika Mukherjee, Ishwak Singh, and Abhishek Banerjee. The teaser was released on 27 April while the trailer was out on 5 May.[2][3][4] Loosely based on Tarun Tejpal's 2010 novel The Story of My Assassins, the series is about a disillusioned cop who lands the case of an assassination attempt gone wrong.[5]


Paatal Lok is a police-based investigative thriller inspired by the traditional concepts of Svarga, Dharti and Paatal (heaven, earth and the hell), as metaphors for the different classes of India and the four estates.[6][7] Sudip Sharma began writing Paatal Lok in the beginning of 2017. For Sharma it was his maiden attempt at writing in long-form. The writing team also consisted of Hardik Mehta, Gunjit Chopra, Sagar Haveli who were also beginners in writing a series.[8] Sharma wrote the first and last three episodes, while the remaining five were written by the other writers. All the writers did field research visiting places in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh in 2017.[8] The show has two directors, Prosit Roy and Avinash Arun Dhaware, both directing different portions of the series.[8] The series has been shot in 110 cities in India.[9]

Styles and themes

Mythological Tropes

Socio-economic divisions in India are metaphorically compared with the mythological Indian concepts of Svarga, Dharti and Paatal (heaven, earth and the hell). Delhi is used as the story-telling playground where Lutyens Delhi is heaven, Vasant Kunj and Noida is the earth while Jamna Paar in South Delhi is hell.[10] The climax of the story is also based on the mythological fable of Yudhisthira's dog from the Mahabharata.[11][12]

Didactic themes

The show gives an insight into various forms of discrimination in India, including dislike against Muslims through the character of Ishwak Singh as Imran Ansari. Religion and caste are also visible in the show.[11] Chinni's story beings out the issues of child abuse and discrimination against transgenders.[12] Hathoda Tyagi's background gives insight into the abysmal state of women safety in rural India.[12]


Inspector Hathi Ram Chaudhary is a cynical, washed out Delhi cop who has nothing to look forward to in his less than ordinary career. But that is until the day a high profile case lands on his table, a case too big and important for his designation.[13] The case turns into a dark mystery thriller that leads inspector to the dark realm of underworld (Paatal Lok).[14] Hathi Ram’s instinct tells him to investigate into the lives of the suspects. He discovers startling truths and insights that eventually help him rediscover his responsibilities as a cop, his place in the larger scheme of things and the larger meaning of life itself.[15]

Cast and characters

Jaideep Ahlawat plays the lead role of Hathiram Chaudhary, a policeman.[16] Hathiram's wife, Renu, is played by Gul Panag while his son, Siddharth, is played by Bodhisattva Sharma.[17] Ishwak Singh as Imran Ansari is Hathiram's buddy policeman. Neeraj Kabi plays a high profile journalist and anchor Sanjeev Mehra.[17] Sanjeev Mehra's wife Dolly is played by Swastika Mukherjee[6] Niharika Lyra Dutt plays the role of an aspiring journalist Sara Matthews working under Sanjeev Mehra.[17]

The four who attempt to assassinate Sanjeev Mehra are Abhishek Banerjee as Vishal "Hathoda" Tyagi,[17] Jagjeet Sandhu as Tope Singh "Chaaku",[17] Asif Khan as Kabir M,[17] and Mairembam Ronaldo Singh as Mary Lyngdoh or Chini.[18] Other cast and characters include:


No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date
1"Bridges"Avinash Arun, Prosit RoySudip SharmaMay 15, 2020 (2020-05-15)
Inspector Hathi Ram Chaudhary is going through his dead beat job when he lands up a big investigation. Three men and a woman have been arrested for the attempt to murder a big prime time journalist Sanjeev Mehra, and Hathi Ram is asked to build a case. Meanwhile, for Mehra, this news couldn’t have come at a worse time for he struggles with problems at work and a boss who wants to fire him.
2"Lost and Found"Avinash Arun, Prosit RoySagar Haveli, Hardik Mehta, Gunjit ChopraMay 15, 2020 (2020-05-15)
Hathi Ram and Ansari use every technique in the book to interrogate the four suspects. Finally they manage to break one of them and his statement points to a certain ‘Master ji’ from Chitrakoot. Meanwhile pressure mounts on Sanjeev Mehra at the work front.
3"A history of violence"Avinash Arun, Prosit RoySagar Haveli, Hardik Mehta, Gunjit ChopraMay 15, 2020 (2020-05-15)
Hathi Ram reaches Chitrakoot and meets Tyagi's family and school teacher. He comes to know of the beginning of Tyagi's criminal record, and the people Tyagi worked for. Meanwhile Ansari conducts a parallel investigation in Punjab and finds out about Tope Singh's dark past. Sanjeev Mehra pulls off a coup on his television show, surprising friends and foes alike.
4"Sleepless in Seelampur"Avinash Arun, Prosit RoySagar Haveli, Hardik Mehta, Gunjit ChopraMay 15, 2020 (2020-05-15)
Hathi Ram gets sucked further into the case, but the investigation hits a dead end with the mysterious death of a key suspect. Sanjeev Mehra starts forming a plan to cash in on his renewed popularity. A procedureal screw up gets blown up and lands Hathi Ram in serious trouble with the bosses.
5"Of fathers and sons"Avinash Arun, Prosit RoySagar Haveli, Hardik Mehta, Gunjit ChopraMay 15, 2020 (2020-05-15)
Hathi Ram, suspended from his job, struggles to keep himself away from the case while dealing with rising issues at home. Sanjeev Mehra makes a dubious populist move that does not go well with Sara and creates a rift in their budding romance. CBI starts investigating the case and comes up with a shocking theory.
6"The past is prologue"Avinash Arun, Prosit RoySagar Haveli, Hardik Mehta, Gunjit ChopraMay 15, 2020 (2020-05-15)
Hathi Ram travels into the past of Kabir and Cheeni, and that makes him further convinced that the CBI's 'terrorism theory' is fabricated. Hathi Ram's son lands into serious trouble with the bad guys and he is forced to step in and take action.
7"Badlands"Avinash Arun, Prosit RoySudip SharmaMay 15, 2020 (2020-05-15)
Hathi Ram travels to Chitrakoot to pick up the missing threads from where he last left them. Further details emerge on Tyagi's mysterious 'Masterji' and Tyagi's close emotional bond with him. Hathi Ram tails the dangerous Gwala Gujjar, Master ji's brother, and almost gets caught in the act.
8"Black Widow"Avinash Arun, Prosit RoySudip SharmaMay 15, 2020 (2020-05-15)
Following Tyagi's political links, Hathi Ram comes across a mysterious woman who turns out to be the missing link between Tyagi and Tope Singh's story. Hathi Ram pieces together clues that lead him to a startling discovery concerning Master ji.
9"Swarg ka Dwaar"Avinash Arun, Prosit RoySudip SharmaMay 15, 2020 (2020-05-15)
On the run from Gwala's dangerous men, Hathi Ram manages to piece together the entire jigsaw puzzle. Sanjeev's pride at his takeover of the business is bursted by Hathi Ram's shocking revelations. Tyagi discovers the truth about Master ji and that leads him to fulfilling his childhood prophecy. Hathi Ram is grudgingly handed back his badge by the Police Department.


Paatal Lok received positive reviews. The day the series was released, Anurag Kashyap tweeted that Paatal Lok is "the best crime thriller to come out of this country,"[21] adding that "It comes from the understanding of Real India. The dark heart of India, the communal and casteist India".[21] Filmstars Manoj Bajpayee and Alia Bhatt both took to Twitter to praise the show and the acting.[22][23] Saibal Chatterjee gave the series 4 stars and writing in his NDTV review "Is Paatal Lok Amazon Prime's Sacred Games? No. It is more."[24] Jaideep Ahlawat, Neeraj Kabi and Swastika Mukherjee were praised for their performances.[24] Namrata Joshi of The Hindu writes that the performances are "powerful all around",[25] adding that on display are "the pent up prejudices against Muslims, the dehumanisation of the lower castes and the rage and angst of the have-nots against the haves."[25] In a review in the Film Companion, Anupama Chopra praises Anushka Sharma for producing Paatal Lok and wrote "Paatal Lok is a tightly knit thriller [...] our perception of the characters shifts as the story unravels so that it becomes impossible to decide the good, bad and ugly".[26]


The series created a controversy over a racist sexist slur in the second episode of Paatal Lok.[27] Indra Hang Subba, a Member of Parliament from Sikkim, wrote to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting about the matter.[28] A complaint was filed by "All Arunachal Pradesh Gorkha Youth Association (AAPGYA)" to the National Human Rights Commission while a legal notice was also sent by the Lawyers Guild.[29][30] Bharatiya Janata Party legislator Nand Kishore Gurjar filed a complaint related to "unauthorised use of his likeness" in the show as well as accused the show of being "anti-national" in numerous ways.[31]


  1. ^ Xalxo, Jessica (27 April 2020). "'Paatal Lok': See First Teaser for New Lawless Series". Rolling Stones India. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  2. ^ "Paatal Lok teaser: Anushka Sharma's web series promises to be a gritty affair". The Indian Express. 28 April 2020. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  3. ^ "'Hell breaks loose' in Anushka Sharma production for Amazon Prime". The New Indian Express. 28 April 2020. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  4. ^ "'Paatal Lok' new poster: Anushka Sharma's recent update gives more insights about upcoming web series". DNA India. 4 May 2020. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  5. ^ "Paatal Lok: Based On His Book, But Nothing To Do With Tarun Tejpal". Mid Day. 13 May 2020. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  6. ^ a b "Anushka Sharma's Amazon Prime series 'Paatal Lok' to premiere on May 15". The Hindu. PTI. 24 April 2020. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 4 May 2020.CS1 maint: others (link)
  7. ^ Rawat, Divya (29 April 2020). "Anushka Sharma's Shares Teaser Of Upcoming Web Series Paatal Lok". SheThePeople TV. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  8. ^ a b c Das, Poulomi (22 May 2020). "Paatal Lok: How Sudip Sharma created the Amazon Prime series no one can stop talking about- Entertainment News, Firstpost". Firstpost. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  9. ^ "Paatal Lok: Anushka Sharma, Abhishek Banerjee, Jaideep Ahlawat hold a virtual celebration amid lockdown". Hindustan Times. 16 May 2020. Retrieved 16 May 2020.
  10. ^ Banerjee, Dyotana (23 May 2020). "Caste, Class and Populist Political Anxieties in 'Paatal Lok'". The Wire. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  11. ^ a b Gupta, Shubhra (17 May 2020). "Paatal Lok review: An intelligently written, engrossing series". The Indian Express. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  12. ^ a b c Sharma, Dhruv (16 May 2020). "Paatal Lok Ending, Explained". The Cinemaholic. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  13. ^ "Anushka Sharma's "Paatal Lok" to release on May 15". outlookindia. 24 April 2020. Archived from the original on 28 April 2020. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  14. ^ ""Paatal Lok" cast, plot and everything you need to know". toplistspedia. 4 May 2020. Archived from the original on 8 May 2020. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  15. ^ "Paatal Lok Release Date: Anushka Sharma-Produced Series Out in May on Amazon Prime Video". gadgets.ndtv. 24 April 2020. Archived from the original on 6 May 2020. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  16. ^ Kanyal, Jyoti (14 May 2020). "Jaideep Ahlawat on playing the lead in Paatal Lok: It's a huge responsibility, you represent a team". India Today. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  17. ^ a b c d e f "Paatal Lok: Anushka Sharma shares new teaser for her grimy and violent new Amazon series, trailer out May 5". Hindustan Times. 27 April 2020. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  18. ^ Gani, Abdul (25 May 2020). "Two Northeast actors make a mark in much-talked-about 'Paatal Lok' on Amazon Prime Video". Telegraph India. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  19. ^ Sharma, Dhruv (16 May 2020). "Who is Masterji in Paatal Lok?". The Cinemaholic. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  20. ^ "Anurag Arora: Ive refused many cop characters". Retrieved 22 May 2020. External link in |website= (help)
  21. ^ a b Mukherjee, Nairita (15 May 2020). "Paatal Lok review by Anurag Kashyap: The best crime thriller to come out of this country". India Today. Retrieved 16 May 2020.
  22. ^ "'Fan Girling Hard': Alia Bhatt Is All Praise for 'Paatal Lok'". The Quint. 24 May 2020. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  23. ^ Chaubey, Pranita (24 May 2020). ""Fan Girl" Alia Bhatt Said This After Watching Raazi Co-Star Jaideep Ahlawat's Performance In Paatal Lok". NDTV. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  24. ^ a b Chatterjee, Saibal (15 May 2020). "Paatal Lok Review: Is This Prime's Sacred Games? No, It Is More". NDTV. Retrieved 16 May 2020.
  25. ^ a b Joshi, Namrata (15 May 2020). "'Paatal Lok' review: Powerful performances in consonance with the pulse of the series, make this a gripping watch". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 16 May 2020.
  26. ^ Chopra, Anupama (15 May 2020). "Paatal Lok Review: The Type Of Storytelling That Streaming Platforms Were Made For". Film Companion. Retrieved 16 May 2020.
  27. ^ "Patal lok Controversy: Sikkim Congress chief demands apology from Anushka Sharma". Gangtok: The Northeast Today. 20 May 2020. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  28. ^ "Pataal Lok Webseries Case : Sikkim MP Writes To Ministry of IB for Action". The Voice of Sikkim. 24 May 2020. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  29. ^ "Notice to Anushka Sharma for alleged racist slur in Paatal Lok". Hindustan Times. 24 May 2020. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  30. ^ "Complaint against Anushka Sharma over 'sexist slur' in Paatal Lok". Tribune India News Service. 24 May 2020. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  31. ^ "Paatal Lok: BJP MLA files complaint against Anushka Sharma for using his image without permission, calls show 'anti-national'". Hindustan Times. 25 May 2020. Retrieved 25 May 2020.

External links