Over the last couple of years, almost all the leading OTT platforms have made various attempts to tap the opulent and colossal resources of Indian mythology. Some of which turned out to be masterpieces like ‘Asur‘ and ‘Sacred Games’ while some disastrous.
The Netflix action, horror, fiction, thriller ‘Betaal’ lies somewhere in the centre. Despite being gripping and having a compelling narrative the story overall lacks uniqueness and contains blunders which are laughable and not expected from a streaming giant like Netflix. Still, it does justice to all the aspects involved in the plot.
In simple words, the entire series is based on internal conflicts.
The conflicts between the orders and conscience in a soldier’s mind named Sirohi, the conflicts of tribes (Naxals) superstitious believe with modern society’s greed in the name of development which forces them to rebel. The conflict of a soldier’s duty with the love for his brother. The conflict between madness for power and humanity within us. It gives us a strong message regarding the decisions we need to make in our lives.
The story starts as a government based construction company given the task to build a highway connecting a forest to a developed area through a tunnel which the local tribals believed to be haunted. A fictional military force named CRPD is supposed to assist them. The CRPD squad uses force against the local tribes and opens allegedly haunted like the Pandora’s box and the situation turns into pandemonium.
As the story proceeds, we find that this chaos is linked to British colonial time when Colonel Lynedoch who was an officer and an expert in black magic and wanted to redeem evil powers from Betaal dev. Due to his evil ambition, an army of the dead or simply zombies came into being here we can draw a very strong parallel with ‘The Game of Thrones’ an absurd difference is that they could be killed using dragon glass whereas here they used a homemade mixture of turmeric and ash. We could also see some glimpse of Tumbbad.
The direction seemed to pretty cliché, showing director Patrick Graham’s obsession with a military vs ghost story as seen earlier in ‘Ghoul’. It was well directed in terms of narration and casting was also pretty good.
The screenplay is nothing new but an amalgam of something we already witnessed a number of times except for the legend of Betaal Dev which was again not given as much importance as it deserved. One of the good aspects was the length which made me watch it till the end.
Sound effects by Dolby digital were also cliché for a horror series. Special effects fail miserably, making you laugh at those times when you were supposed to be frightened. Dialogues didn’t really have a lasting impact.
The cast has lifted this not so mind-blowing series with some mind-blowing performances. Vineet Singh as Sirohi is banging on at every instant and communicates his vulnerability well and sets a perfect example of a good soldier. Manjiri Pupala is flawless in her role as a tribal woman and impresses with strange Hindi dialect. Aahana Kumra did well as Ahluas a soldier and as a friend.
Suchitra Pillai portrayed as a strong and brave woman officer does well as a commandant but fails to impress when later on, watch the series to know why. Jitendra Joshi is the cruellest and most greedy character portrayed in a very long time.
Reasons to Watch
A brilliant style of narration and a systematic sequence of events in the series. It was like opening a beautiful rose, petal by petal. The story is never dragged and always to the point. A good attempt.
Reasons to Miss
1) Nothing special. Routine stuff for Hollywood and Foreign movie and series lovers.
2) Bad conclusion (just like GOT finale).
All and all this is definitely not the best series in the horror genre but not a bad series to try out due to its length. Netflix India fails once again. I would rate it 2 out of 5.