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  • Writer's pictureCarlos Luis

Paatal Lok: A lesson to root out injustice

With a hidden agenda the top-notch politicians get in touch with policemen and conspire against the prominent journalist Sanjeev Mehra (Neeraj Kabi). The web series is said to be inspired by the book ‘The Story of My Assassins’ by Tarun J. Tejpal. The series gives you a peek into individual criminal lives and the conspiracy they get involved in without any intimation. Avinash Arun and Prosit Roy have directed Paatal Lok the riveting web series that decides to navigate us through the lives of Vishal ‘Hathoda’ Tyagi (Abhishek Banerjee), Tope Singh (Jagjeet Sandhu), Mary Lyngdoh or Cheeni (Mairembam Ronaldo Singh), and Kabir M (Asif Khan) putting us in a fix to either root for them or the conspirers.

Right from the start you are of the impression that these suspects need to be punished. But the deep and clear investigation by the investigating officer Hathi Ram Chaudhary (Jaideep Ahlawat) clarifies that these suspects are at no fault. But, the suspects have their shameful criminal history or earth-shattering life stories.

Their stories start from the spark to earn justice for themselves and their family. Their lives are affected by the communal disharmony, the indifference between classes, and the disgraceful pleasure-seeking and perverted patriarchy. Do we have the freedom then to call them nonconformists, misfits, and social deviants? Call them whatever you want but we can’t deny the fact that they were the products of the inhuman society. The inquiry of Hathi Ram Chaudhary along with Imran Ansari (Ishwak Singh) proves it to us in clear terms.

Vishal Tyagi is the son of a farmer in Chitrakoot. He loves dogs and is the best shot-put player holding a district record. He is hot-tempered, believing in justice and combating injustice. Due to a land dispute there is a conflict between his father and his uncle. His uncle decides to flaunt his power by making use of three men to rape Vishal’s sisters. They are raped and no FIR is registered. Their life gets distorted and in fear Vishal’s father surrenders the land in dispute and gets his three daughters married.

But Vishal Tyagi doesn’t remain silent he fights back by taking justice into his hands he kills his uncle’s three sons with a hammer. Vishal Tyagi from then on is called ‘Hathoda’ Tyagi. The person who helps him escape gives him life and adds new meaning to it is Donullia Gujjar. Donullia turns a just Vishal into a serial murderer thereafter. Vishal ‘Hathoda’ Tyagi before getting involved in the conspiracy to murder is a wanted criminal of 45 murders.

Tope Singh the second suspect becomes a victim of harassment and oppression by the upper caste back in his hometown in Punjab. He belongs to the Manjaar caste and thus is teased, ragged, and beaten by the upper caste. The timely movement by the Manjaar Community to wrestle against the oppression makes Tope stronger, giving him renewed hope. He toils day in and day out to fight back. And upon meeting another score of mockery and persecution he decides to gather courage and teach the upper caste a lesson. He wants to change the system but the path he employs has repercussions in wait.

Tope Singh after having tried to change the system by retaliation knows that he cannot escape the hands of the angry upper-caste villagers. He is chased out of the village never to return. His hasty attempt to gain justice leads his mother to be raped by 11 men. Further on Tope Singh is torn and destroyed by the divide, even to the extent that his lover Chanda a Brahmin who puts him in a loop to escape him.

The orphan transgender Mary Lyngdoh was left on the train to fend for herself by her uncle. It doesn’t take her long to be part of the street children and fall in the system of rag-picking and thievery. But due to her vulnerability she is raped and abused several times by the aberrant mentally sick patriarchy. All her attempts to embrace success and the beauty of life blow apart until Shaakal her constant abuser is killed. She envisions a bright future and studies at night school, works in a mall, and later at a masseuse parlour in Noida.

Poor that she is, is enticed to money and making more of it. Mukesh Talreja offers her sex jobs and she willingly does them. Morality and ethics remain fictional ideas to Mary Lyngdoh. She leads her life as it comes without sometimes reasoning out what she does leading her to be one of the suspects.

Kabir M on the other hand faces Hindu-Muslim communal upheaval wherein his elder brother is stabbed and killed. His father gathers courage and prepares a medical certificate proving that Kabir was not circumcised but operated. He is not raised to be a Muslim but becomes an expert thief right from schooling. He is a skilled car and bike burglar who visits the prisons regularly perhaps more than the cops.

All four suspects could have had a different life trail if certain things were in place. If only our system of justice was not weak and slow. If only we had strict policies to handle rape cases, the victims, and the rapists. If only there was no division between human beings and oppression due to the caste system. If only we would extend our hand to recognize and realize the atrocities done to the LGBTQ community. If only there was harmony among religions which no doubt there is, but more of it to be ingrained in the hearts of every individual to allow anyone and everyone the freedom to freely profess the faith and the God one believes in. Let us then rise to the situation and unshackle those facing injustice. Let 'Paatal Lok' and its explanation be a reason for us to mend our ways.

First Published on THE GOAN EVERYDAY newspaper

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