Most of us grew up watching TV shows like Zee Horror show and Aahat on Zee Tv and Sony. We’re literally too used to being disappointed in horror produced in the Indian entertainment industry. There are a few exceptions like Urmila Matondkar starer Bhoot and Raaz (only the first part though) but now we have a new benchmark. Starring Radhika Apte and jointly-produced by Jason Blum and Anurag Kashyap, the Netflix original – Ghoul, is the show that every horror lover must watch. Here are 10 reasons why Ghoul is exactly what Indian TV shows really needed.
1. Tackles Social Change and Religious Fanaticism
In the very first episode, the miniseries raises issues pertaining to sectarianism in a dystopia. The society is divided and ruled by a totalitarian regime which has no place for religion and religious propaganda. It is also suggested that the state has curbed all voices of dissent and resistance. This is something that has barely been touched by mainstream narratives in the Indian TV scene. Ghoul takes the social change to a completely different level by uniting people on the grounds of nationalism and it highlights the macabre nature of such a society.
2. Political undertones, suggestions and reactions
Ghoul depicts a dystopia ruled by a military regime and also shows the darkness that paints the political scenario. It suggests how the defenders of democracy end up becoming like the very same fanatics that they were rose up against. Characters like Colonel Dacunha (Manav Kaul) and Laxmi Das (Ratnabali Bhattacharjee) are blinded by the regime’s propaganda and the power granted by their military ranks. Dacunha is a decorated soldier with an illustrious character, but as the narrative progresses we see the darker side his heroism. It also suggests that due to his past achievements he suffers from a hero-complex which is highlighted by the fact that he took pleasure in beating and raping his own wife as she does not consent to his sexual approaches. Nida Rahim’s (Radhika Apte) father is shown as a progressive individual with views that are subversive in the state’s eyes. He tries to teach the correct history and religious teachings to his students and is sent to prison for interrogation and rehabilitation, but instead, he is shot in the head for his dissenting voice and actions.
3. Dark, mystical, and subversive-urban setting
The mini-series opens with an army team raiding an abandoned shopping mall where terrorists have set up a base. They are informed that a certain high profile terrorist, Ali Saeed had taken refuge in the mall. The typically urban setting of the scene sets the tone of the show and the subversive nature of depicting a tormented member of the society who has fallen prey to religious fanaticism as a reactionary dissent against the totalitarian regime. The mystery set in immediately and it only gets darker as the plot moves ahead.
4. Powerful female archetype – Nida Rahman
We’ve barely had powerful female characters in the lead in Indian shows. Also, most Indian TV shows are full of sexist ideas and depiction, with female characters usually being depicted as vamps or damsels. Ghoul subverts the idea of weak female characters that have been prevalent in Indian TV shows. Nida Rahim is shown as a hardcore nationalist who has been indoctrinated with the state’s ideas and put into the military regime’s interrogation unit. Nida is depicted as a religious Muslim but she has no sympathy towards the Muslim terrorists in prison. The show highlights the empathy in her when she gives a blanket to one of the prisoners and how she protects another prisoner since as finds out about his innocence. Nida takes on her superiors and fights for what is right and does not follow orders blindly. She is definitely one of the most powerful characters, that we have ever seen in any Indian show.
5. Incorporating Islamic mythology into the core of the plot
A ghoul is a demon or monster originating in the pre-Islamic mythos and is depicted as a flesh-eating, shape-shifting entity. In Islamic mythology, a ghūl is portrayed as a fiend-like djinn, and Iblis is said to have dominion over them. The term has often been used for an undead monster which takes on the appearance of the last human that it consumes. The show builds upon the element of horror and the demonic character is derived from the mythical ghūl. We’ve never seen such a macabre representation of any demon or spirit in Bollywood productions in the past, as we see in Ghoul. Most of the horror films and shows fail because of their lack of mystery, inefficient makeup and grossly underwhelming action and acting. This is where Ghoul shines and outdoes every other mainstream Indian horror film/show.
6. Great visual representation, dramatic jump scares and VFX
Ghoul delivers exactly what the Indian horror scene needs; an uncanny and formidable fiend/ghost/spirit, powerful performances, perfect makeup and blood, unashamed gore and body horror. The show’s visual representation of a dark dystopia is simply perfect. Most of the action takes place in Meghdoot 31, a secret nuclear bunker turned prison to hold the most dangerous criminals. The underground bunker also acts as a metaphor for the society that is repressed and covered up by the totalitarian regime. The scenes in which the ghūl is shown are executed with utmost perfection and the makeup is on point. Its jump scares are few, but they are intensely effective; get ready for some bone-chilling scenes of gore and horror if you have not watched Ghoul yet.
7. Intense action, mystery and psychological horror
The secret facility where most of the action takes place has a macabre tone to it. It is an unsettling place with no windows or natural light it can only be accessed by a single door. Ghoul develops and intensifies the mystery surrounding the terrorist Ali Saeed, (Mahesh Balraj) as he is brought into Meghdoot 31 for interrogation. The flawless acting and expressions on the demonic spirit’s face are executed brilliantly and it might be really scary if you have a weak heart (you’ve been warned).
8. The degradation of human psychology in isolation
Isolation can turn a person completely insane and Ghoul shows exactly this. The army officials in the secret facility are portrayed as dark individuals who’s psychological conditions are shaped by their past actions. Being soldiers and interrogators, they have had a dark past because of their job. Some have killed innocent people, some are shown as power-hungry megalomaniacs with a hero-complex. The isolation brings out the darkness in them and intensifies the element of psychological horror.
9. Compelling cinematography and a very slick sound design
Most of the action in the show takes place in the secret underground facility, that is mostly dark. Even the other scenes in which characters are introduced take place in the night. The very first scene is set in the wee hours of the night in an abandoned mall with no electricity. The camera-work is commendable and the cinematography is brilliant. Ghoul delivers intense gore, that is paralleled with an amazing sound design, great makeup and amazing acting. Some of the scenes are executed with awesome close-ups and honest representation of blood and damage to the physical bodies. In short, Ghoul is an amazing show with great production value.
10. THE QUEEN – Radhika Apte
Do we really need to tell you why?
Ghoul is a gripping tale with great set and sound designs, strong characters and compelling performances, political thriller and psychological horror. The show is exactly what the Indian horror scene needed. I feel it is the new benchmark for future productions. What do you think? Let’s discuss the show and its awesomeness in the comments below.
PS: Happy Birthday Radhika!