The Indian Netflix Original release had a challenge that hovered on it, being the successor to a brilliant show like “Sacred Games”, they had a lot of eyes to please. Believe me when I tell you, they surpassed the expectations set in stone. The beauty of this show lies in the captivity that the viewers get stuck in, it’s almost like the case of a Stockholm Syndrome, where the viewer is captured but in love with the capturer. You keep wishing for more as and when you proceed with the episodes.
Ghoul was originally set to be a movie, Netflix then took it up and divided it into 3 episodes. This seems like a right decision as the heaviness of content like this needs breaks in between. This is not a typical horror, it’s also a psychological thriller and hence you need time to process all the information.
The plot of the show is set in the near future where the country has collapsed, Nida Rahim (Radhika Apte) has committed the fouler-y of standing up against her own father with the then reigning government, while training for the military, what seemed to be the right stand to take as a righteous citizen. Nida is then recruited as a military official who gets transferred to a detention centre for a ‘certain task’ involving one of the biggest terrorists, Ali Saeed (Mahesh Balraj). Everyone is extremely terrified of Ali due to his past actions and cannot believe the fact that he got captured so easily, many assume that might have brought it onto himself and has a reason for doing so, possibly a secret attack. By this time, Nida has been introduced to the people at the centre, including Colonel Sunil (Manav Kaul), Lieutenant Laxmi (Ratnabali Bhattacharjee) and a couple others. Laxmi is not too fond of Nida due to religious differences and considering the fact that her father was a convicted criminal, yet Colonel Sunil insists on keeping her around as he believes she has a connection to Saeed and would be able to crack him. The interrogation begins and it goes into the opposite direction altogether, Ali Saeed and his inhumane tactics, ending in the murder of one of them. Amongst all this, Nida also faces a personal attack relating to her father by Saeed. She starts to figure out that the criminal they are questioning is not human, and tries to get to the depth of the matter.
After a few attempts by the military to break Saeed and getting drowned in their own guilt instead, they unanimously decide to bring in one of their strong men, Faulad Singh to break him down with his knuckles instead. He arrives and during this Nida is adamant to find out more about the prisoner. The prisoners already at the centre know about Saeed and she threatens them to open up. This is when we, and Nida, learn the origins of Ghoul. A monster that appears when called out for a task, who takes up the human form of whoever’s flesh he devours. They believe Ali has been taken up by Ghoul. Now that the ghoul has entered the cantonment, everyone gets dawned with fear. The last scenes of the show are chaotic, everyone hiding from the ghoul and the military and yet falling right into their arms as though preys. The ghoul takes up many more forms and is now becoming impossible to get rid of. No one knows who summoned the ghoul and are on a mission to figure it out.
Edging towards the climax, we find the survivors in one room. Nida has figured out why the ghoul is there and what needs to be done for it to vanish. There are quite a few shockers that come along the way (being strict about no spoilers). The final sequence leads to telling us that Nida…
The suspense that opens up by the end of the series is a beautiful stand for justice. The ghoul was sent merely for a task and nothing more, he gets the help to finish it and he goes ahead with it. As scary as it is, he delivers justice to the characters more than anyone else involved.
- Production: The film is based on a dream that Patrick Graham, the creator/director of the show, saw of an inmate who enters a prison and manages to terrify the guards and the fellow prisoners. The process began once he started his research about prisons and the environment around and inside them. He wanted to bring in a creature that has not yet been introduced to us, unlike vampires or zombies, a ghoul was perfect. Graham wrote the script in English and had the dialogues translated to Hindi. The cast did several one-on-one sessions and a 15 day rehearsal of scenes. Kaul did the extensive military training and also worked on how to talk, walk, hold the gun, to get the military body language on point. The filmmaking process began only after they knew they could do justice to the environment that they were trying to create. This was a great way to bring a dream to life and give it to the viewers as a show they will remember for along time.
- Aesthetics: The premise of the show takes place in the near future of India. It is a dystopian era where everything has collapsed and terrorism is on the rise. The way they have portrayed such a country seems terrifyingly accurate. It is a grim and dark setting, the costumes of each character are apt and lighting that follows in each episode is extremely dull and contributes in to the thrilling vibe of the show.
- Genre: The show has very accurately followed the genres of horror and thriller. They made sure that the fear of the ghoul sticks around with people but also that the intimidation of humans itself keeps us aware of our surroundings. In a way, Ghoul as a series is a mixture of horror and psychological thriller as it deals with the human mind more than it deals with the devil himself. If you appreciate this genre, a few films like Shutter Island would interest you too.
- Background Score: The grim theme of the show doesn’t fail to impress the viewer even when it comes to the music. The background score that plays every time Ali Saeed is a threat or every time they’re in danger is great. It is the missing piece that brings the whole show together. The theme music is produced by Naren Chandavarkar and Benedict Taylor, done some pretty good justice to it.
Ghoul as a show is more of a finished puzzle board that comes together with each passing episode. Every piece of information is revealed to you slowly and steadily and cleverly lies in your hands to connect the dots at the end.
The climax of Ghoul makes you realise how messed up humanity can get and it is a thrilling end to say the least. There are talks for a second season and that would be a perfect way to take it forward.
Tell us what you think about this one and what would you like to watch next from Netflix India!