Hell breaks out: Gul Panag and Jaideep Ahlawat on 'Paatal Lok', now out on Amazon Prime Video

A still from Paatal Lok

A still from Paatal Lok   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Actors Gul Panag and Jaideep Ahlawat on the class, caste and socio-economic segregations in Paatal Lok that released on May 15

As actor Jaideep Ahlawat delved deeper into Hathiram Chaudhary, the down-and-out cop in Amazon Prime Video’s latest offering Paatal Lok, he started seeing shades of his own father in the character. “There are nuances written by Sudip [Sharma, the show’s creator known for writing hits such as NH10 and Udta Punjab] that reminded me of how my father would react to certain things when I was a teenager. Even the way Chaudhary walks is something I picked up from him, and several other characteristics that only those who really know my father will be able to pick up on,” says Ahlawat.


Described as an investigative thriller, the nine-part series revolves around a jaded officer of the Delhi police, played by Ahlawat, who lands a case involving a murder attempt of a primetime journalist (Neeraj Kabi). Paatal Lok borrows its basic storyline and several characters from Tarun Tejpal’s 2009 novel, The Story of My Assassins. In a previous statement, Amazon Prime claimed that Tejpal, who is facing rape charges since 2013, was not involved in the development and production of the show. The show, which also stars Abhishek Banerjee, Gul Panag and Swastika Mukherjee in pivotal roles, marks the OTT début of actor Anushka Sharma’s Clean Slate Films.

Social connotations

In what is a gritty and dark show, Panag describes Renu Chaudhary, Hathiram’s wife, as “the kind of middle-class wife whose aspirations are linked to her husband’s”. And this is exactly what piqued her interest. “Every role I have done in the last few years has had two common adjectives: ‘strong’ and ‘empowered’. This role is quite a departure, though I did play a shade of Renu [in Nimmi] in the 2007 film, Manorama Six Feet Under,” she says.

The neo-noir show’s title alludes to the mythic realms of heaven, Earth and hell. Paatal Lok’s overarching theme captures the class, caste and socio-economic segregations. It, of course, is a coincidence that the series premières at a time when this social divide has been amplified by the pandemic, but it also feels very relevant. Panag agrees. “We often see stories that explore the divide between the haves and the have-nots, but not in a manner that Sudip has done in this show. It is fascinating how many layers there are within each of these segments.”

A still from the show

A still from the show   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Lockdown stories

As the country heads towards the lockdown’s fourth phase, the two actors, like the rest of the country, are trying to deal with the new normal to the best of their abilities. Ahlawat, 42, is using this period to watch films, shows and documentaries (Unorthodox, Tiger King) that he’s missed in the last couple of years. He says he has discovered a brand new skill — sleeping. “I had no idea I could sleep as much as I am sleeping these days,” he laughs. Panag, though, is surviving on very little sleep. “I have a two-year-old [Nihaal], who wakes up at 5 am, and two dogs. For the rest of the day, we are looking after him, taking the dogs for a walk, cooking and cleaning. I’ve been multitasking during these interviews and sometimes I am cutting vegetables or folding laundry. I’ve had no time to watch anything,” she concludes.

Paatal Lok is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 2:50:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/gul-panag-and-jaideep-ahlawat-on-paatal-lok-now-out-on-amazon-prime-video/article31592260.ece

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