Where there is guilt, there is Ghoul: Why you should watch the new Radhika Apte-starrer Netflix miniseries

It serves as a smack across your face and shows you a mirror.

 |  3-minute read |   28-08-2018
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Imagine an India of the (not so) distant future, at the brink of destruction, aided by weaponised religion. The “right” is the only right, and everything else is just wrong; which means, just about anyone who so much as asks "why" will be deemed "seditious" and must need "re-orientation" or "waapsi."

Oh, wait, that's not really the future, is it?

It is today.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that Netflix's Ghoul is a commentary on the current socio-political milieu of the country, albeit largely dramatised and in parts, exaggerated.

The crux of this three-part horror series is simple — the oppressor will pay, the oppressed will avenge, the wheels of time will turn. Patrick Graham's Ghoul feeds on the everyday fear of the unknown that presumably leads to a catastrophic end. But it doesn't drop a messiah into your lap, commissioned to save humanity from suffering. Ghoul follows Bollywood's age-old wisdom — loha lohe ko kaatta hai — and gives you one monster to tame another.

ghoul_082818045237.jpgIt doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand thatGhoul is a commentary on the current socio-political milieu of the country. (Photo: Screengrab/Netflix)

Enter, the ghoul, or ghul — an evil spirit or jinn, a messenger of death.

A ghoul can supposedly be summoned by anyone who is ready to barter their soul in exchange for revenge, once they draw a symbol that looks a bit like — and serves the same purpose as — the “bat” symbol with their blood.

In this “us versus them” battle, the ghoul will top their evil with something far darker, more sinister and possibly, untameable. It will haunt you, bite into your flesh, and tear you up from within; and then it suddenly strikes you — "ghoul" is simply one's own guilt.

Nida Rahim, brought to life by Radhika Apte's ever-so expressive eyes, fails to understand her father's “different” thoughts, and believes they are anti-national simply because, well, they are different. But the guilt haunts her. Choudhari (Ajit Shidhaye) and Gupta (Harry Parmar) mercilessly torture suspected terrorists and their families, because they truly believe that their entire gene pool is corrupt, but cannot help but discuss that “one time”, even though they promised they never would.

Colonel Suniel Dacunha (Manav Kaul), celebrated and decorated he may be, drowns his guilt of assaulting his wife — and consequently, losing his chance at a family — in endless bottles of expensive scotch. Guilt was already circling their minds like shapeless “dementors”, and all the ghoul, the “abhorred devil” needed to do was hold up a mirror and let one writhe in pangs of their own guilt.

For it is guilt that stands between right and wrong.

For it is guilt that prosecutes you, well after the court of law has set you free.

For it is guilt that will ultimately kill you.

ghoul-2_082818045252.jpgIn this “us versus them” battle, the ghoul will top their evil with something far darker, more sinister and possibly, untameable. (Photo: Screengrab/Netflix)

The moral of the story is not new. So, why should one subject themselves to this show — possibly risking a heart attack, a nervous breakdown, or several sleepless nights, at the very least? The only reason that stands is that it is especially relevant today.

If we find ourselves asking if she was a Hindu or a Muslim before we decide to condemn her rape, if we find ourselves outraged if an actor expresses his fear at how intolerant our country is becoming, if we find more people laughing than be saddened by the news of the death of Muslim pilgrims on a Facebook post, then perhaps we've sold our souls to the ghoul already and it is only a matter of time until it drops in to collect it.

And it is precisely why Ghoul is a must-watch. It serves as a smack across your face and shows you a mirror. To tase you back to reality by showing you the consequences of the path you've chosen. To reverse the polarity of your moral compass (should you happen to have one).

We may not all be guilty of extremism or religious fanaticism, but the lesson worth learning here is, where there is guilt, there is ghoul.

Also read: Yeh ghoul-istaan hamaara? Netflix’s Ghoul is a clever 'anti-nationalistic' story using the framework of horror

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