A remote village becomes the theatre of a breathless battle when a two-century-old Betaal, a British Indian Army officer, and his battalion of zombie redcoats are unleashed. With Indian police pitted against the undead army, hapless villagers are trapped in a horrific, edge-of-your-seat conflict.
Format: Web Series
Movie Rated: 18+ (Language, Violence)
Genre: Thriller, Horror
Language: English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu
Digital Premiere Date: 24 May 2020
The zombie horror sub-genre has been explored in bits and pieces across different parts of India, and now, Netflix has taken up space for its latest show in Betaal. With a fine cast that consists of names such as Vineet Singh and Aahana Kumra, the show is created and directed by the duo of Patrick Graham and Nikhil Mahajan. Within a total runtime of just over three hours, the makers provide an intense experience that masks its flaws with extraordinary sound and visuals all through.
What’s the story about?
Betaal tells us the story of Sirohi (Vineet Kumar Singh) and his team, who are assigned with the job of clearing a tunnel for a highway to be built. Led into it by his higher official Tyagi (Suchitra Pillai-Malik), Sirohi and the others prepare and execute the clearance, but trouble strikes as they run into the curse of the Betaal mountain, which unleashes an army of British generals who have been residing as man-eating creatures in the hideout.
Within a short span of time, Betaal establishes its characters pretty nicely, especially the lead trio of Vineet Kumar, Aahana and Suchitra Pillai-Malik who call themselves the Baaz Squad. Jitendra Joshi and his family are next in the list, and they come together as a messy but important set of characters in the story, along with Siddharth Menon who plays Nadir Haq. Vineet Kumar definitely makes a great impact in the lead role, handing out a solid performance with both his tense and emotional shades hitting the right chords. Aahana gets her moments to shine, but the rest of the cast do not make much of noise mainly due to the one-toned set of expressions that they have to emote.
Betaal takes off in handsome fashion, with the first two episodes perfectly carried out with loads of thrill and a constant suspense factor. The visuals, sound and the proceedings grip you with well-thought-out sequences, little twists and scenes that add value to plot progression. However, the show takes a downward slide in the latter two episodes, as it gets done with its reveals a little too early, leaving nothing to cheer for. It also suffers from the repetition syndrome, as the majority of the show is wrapped within a single mansion. However, those looking to binge it wouldn’t mind much as the whole set of sequences take place within a single night and last no longer than four episodes in total. However, be prepared for a lot of blood and gore.
Music and Other Departments
If there are few departments where the show gets it all right, it would the cinematography, the sound design and the production design. Despite being limited to only a small area of land, Betaal can boast of absolutely brilliant technical wizardry, which makes it an experience on par with the world’s others. This is one place, where there is nothing to complain about.
The way Betaal sets up its story is surely the best part about it, and it should definitely be the level that the makers to be looking to attain if they have the subsequent seasons in mind.
The later parts of the show, particularly the final episode, don’t offer much excitement and just piggyback on the initial firework.
Did I enjoy it?
With a runtime of just 3 hours and a release during the lockdown, here’s a show that I didn’t mind watching straight. There’s a good load of action to feed the adrenaline rush.
Do I recommend it?
If you are a fan of the zombie genre, Betaal has enough to keep you engaged. The series is indeed dark, red and tough to watch at times because of the gore, but this is a good step forward in terms of presentation and visual wonder.