After reading the initial reviews, I had put off the urge to watch Paatal Lok on account of it being too violent. Today, after having binge-watched it a few days later than I should have, all I can say is that the show is all about love. Or maybe love and violence are just incomplete without each other.
There are too many ironies in the show, making it raw, real and gritty. They make it palatable for deep down, we all know there are realities we don’t wish to know about but should know anyway. There is no hero in the show, everyone has their own flaws. They make you rethink what it means to be a hero.
Every storyline in the show seems handpicked to put together a tale, us, binge-watching privileged fools should be familiar with. The show is a lesson in disguise, teaching us about life, forcing us to reflect on missteps we take on a daily basis or witness someone else at it, often silently.
It’s about our identities and how they are shaped by our realities to an extent that sometimes it becomes difficult to know that there is a much larger world out there, waiting to be explored. We find solace in the familiar, becoming a little more afraid everyday. Then, we pass it on to those who depend on us and the cycle continues until someone somewhere has the audacity to stop and question — Why?
This show is not a love story, no. Rather, it gives us a glimpse into different kinds of love. The love you feel for yourself keeps you safe, the love you feel for strangers keeps you company and the love you feel for those you truly care about keeps you sane. It is our need to be safe, sane and acceptable that keeps us going, against insurmountable odds, making us do unimaginable things. I love how each character in the show illustrates this in some way or the other.
Paatal Lok is a strange place to find love and yet it’s where you find it the most, overwhelmingly so.