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Netflix India’s Betaal maybe a horror series, but it deals with a number of social evils – and it is the women who make the best impression!
In a time when we all are locked at home, OTT platforms are leaving no stone unturned in making content to entertain viewers. One such addition is the Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment’s show Betaal.
The four episodes long series was released on Netflix on Sunday.
In short, the series deals with a group of people fighting a zombie army. On a deeper level, Betaal deals with issues of colonialism, neo-colonialism, corruption, greed and exploitation of tribals.
The four-episode series has been created by Patrick Graham (of Ghoul). It is written by him and Suhani Kanwar. The series stars Vineet Kumar, Aahana Kumra, Manjiri Pupala, Syna Anand, Jatin Goswami, Jitendra Joshi and Suchitra Pillai in pivotal roles.
Betaal is set in a tribal village. It follows Vikram (Vineet Kumar), an army officer of the Baaz Squad. He is following the orders of his head- Tyagi Madam (Suchitra Pillai) who is a corrupt officer. She wants the locals to be evacuated from the land to build a tunnel guarded by the villagers for decades. This is done under the influence of a builder Mudhalvan.
Despite warnings from the villagers, the squad blows open the tunnel to construct a road. Soon enough, under Betaal’s curse, an evil spirit of the mountains rises. And the spirit is thirsty for a sacrifice to empower its leader.
When the spirit spots Mudhalvan’s daughter as a sacrifice, the quest to save her begins. Although, the series has some really good jump scares, there are times when it feels a little lost in the complexity of the story.
Apart from other issues, the women in the series are remarkable. They set a stage for themselves, through amazing performance and powerful dialogues they propagate women empowerment.
For me, Puniya was by far the most badass character in the entire series. Puniya is a woman who will do anything to save her land and people and Manjiri Pupala does an amazing job of portraying her fearlessness and bravery.
It is a delight to watch Puniya on the screen. She is fearless and not afraid of anything. And with her sickle, Puniya is dangerous enough to handle the whole army of zombies.
Puniya stands for what is just and is not afraid to even risk her life at any cost. Her goal is to protect her people from the zombie army and for that, she was not even afraid to take the gun and go on the quest, all by herself.
DC Ahluwalia is a brave, tough and moral member of the Baaz Squad. Her look is highlighted by a scar on the right side of her face. The scar represents her past trauma and how she didn’t give in to it.
Aahana Kumra, in an interview with Outlook said “It (the scar) speaks volumes about her, it makes you realise that there is a lot more to Ahlu’s story than meets the eye. She has had a difficult past and has not yet lost hope. She is super tough and is a just and brave officer.”
Aahana does an amazing job and truly highlights all the layers. Apart from her personality her dialogues also make Ahluwalia aka Ahlu memorable.
In the third episode while talking to Saanvi, she says “The county needs girls like you.” Ahlu radiates hope, courage, strength and strong will power. Something that makes me admire her a lot.
Saanvi is the daughter of Mudhalvan. The evil and his zombie army are after her to offer her as a sacrifice so that the zombie army can be free to rule.
Although Saanvi is just a little girl, the character stunned me with her bravery. She stands against her father who, in his lust for power, joins the zombie army. Other than this, she also emotionally guides Vikram to follow what is good and not just the rules and orders.
Actress Syna Anand does a commendable job is showcasing the fear and mental tension of Saanvi to the audience. For me, the character Saanvi was a slap to everyone in the society who thinks girls are a bane to any family.
Now Tyagi Madam is a character far from moral values. She is a corrupt officer who manipulates her team members for money. And since she is a power-hungry officer, she becomes the carrier of the evil spirit.
Suchitra Pillai does an amazing job, of scaring the audience. When she is on the screen, you cannot take your eyes off her. She manages to get under your skin slowly and steadily to give a great final blow.
In the end despite slightly haywire storytelling, some silly dialogues, and tacky detailing, Betaal is a good one-time watch. Major credits for that go to amazing performances from the entire cast.
It is a good addition to the zombie genre of India which so far was only restricted to comedy attempts like ‘Go, Goa, Gone.’ During the lockdown, Betaal is, definitely a fresh touch to break our monotony and asks serious questions about the monster that resides inside.
Picture credits: Still from the series Betaal
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