In a near future, in a dystopian country, chaos reigns. A military autocratic system is in command, that brings in people for questioning, accused under sedition and anti-national activities. Nida Rahim, a cadet training at the police academy, hands over her father to the authorities as she suspects him to be involved in such activities. A month later, Nida is called from her training to join an elite advanced interrogation force, operating at a black site. Their target is the leader of a terrorist squad, brought in for questioning. At the interrogation, the terrorist calls Nida by a nickname that only her father used to do, which spooks her. Soon it’s evident that a supernatural entity is in works. But what it has to do with Nida? ‘Ghoul’ – a Netflix original aims to answers the rest.
Myths have often their roots buried in truth. What the common folks fail to comprehend, they usually associate with it either divinity or the acts of the devil. Mythology has many tales of people worshipping Gods to grant them boons. It also tells stories of people worshipping Satan to fulfill their wishes. These tales often have the devotee offer their lives to the devil, in exchange for their wishes getting fulfilled. In a way, it’s an allegory of people, going to any extent to have their wishes fulfilled. To get their deepest desires, they turn into the manifestations of evil. But laws of nature believes in balance. To weed out the evil, it creates something that even scares the wit out the evil. The Arabian mythology calls it the Ghoul.
Well conceptualized, stylishly shot, ‘Ghoul’ is a film, that has been turned into a mini-series. It’s rare to see an Indian horror show that legitimately scares you. There are no jump-scares, yet the setting of a brutal torture chamber, the anticipation of something sinister at work, have been presented brilliantly. For a genre, that has never been explored at a detailed level, ‘Ghoul’ is a great first step. The story has been set at a time, where blind patriotism has divided people into various sects. It’s a nod to the changing times of today, which’s very apt, considering the present situation of the country. The series is directed by Patrick Graham who shows a deft hand in crafting the dystopian world, in which the story is set.
Which brings us to the low points, that ‘Ghoul’ suffers from. The series consists of 3 episodes, but not enough material to develop the backstories of the characters. Other than Radhika Apte, the rest of them don’t have their stories etched out in an elaborated fashion. There are multiple interesting characters introduced in the storylines yet as an audience, one wishes to see more of their lives, about the things that made them this way. As an ensemble, the entire cast stands out. But individually, one can see the flaws. Manav Kaul, as the decorated war hero Colonel Dacunha fails to create his usual impact. Radhika Apte as the protagonist Nida Rahim is strictly good. It’s not one of her great works, yet she shines among the rest. Ratnabali Bhattacharjee as Lt Laxmi Das is effective yet one wishes to see the story behind the lady, who has been deemed as the number one interrogator by the commander. It feels great to see the veteran actor S M Zaheer as Nida’s father, after a long time. Mahesh Balraj as the terrorist Ali Saeed is terrific as the first manifestation of the Ghoul.
‘Ghoul’ is an important step in making such horror anthologies in the future. Despite its shortcomings, it makes for an intriguing watch. Give it a shot and you won’t be disappointed.
Watch all episodes of ‘Ghoul’, now streaming on Netflix.
The Cinemawala Rating: 3/5