Leila directed by Deepa Mehta, Shanker Raman, and Pawan Kumar opens up with the mob lynching of a Muslim man named Rizwan Chaudhari (Rahul Khanna). He is seen leading a happy life with his Hindu wife Shalini( Huma Qureshi) who is arrested and put into a concentration labour camp. Their daughter Leila- a true symbol of their love – is kidnapped.
The happy life of the family ends here. Based on the novel written by Indian journalist and novelist, Prayag Akbar’s novel Leila, the story is about Shalini, who tries to find her missing daughter in a totalitarian regime in the near future. Seeing the trailer, you would know that the show is set in a world where one’s religious believes decides their chance of survival. “My lineage is my destiny”. “Jay Aryavarta”. Leila is set in the late 2040s in India that is known as Aryavarta.
The country functions like a religious cult where the society is differentiated based on caste, creed, communities bid by stringent rules and policies. The political and police authorities nab women who get married outside their community. They are termed as “dushkarni”- impure and this is what escalates the plot.
Aryavarta is a dictatorial, totalitarian nation headed by Joshi (Sanjay Suri). The social norms have fallen apart following severe water cut and air pollution. Communities have tall walls divided into sectors, emphasizing on purity. The amalgamation of different communities seen together is seen as a punishable and an act of offence.
Transgressors are cut off from their families and sent to facilities where they are given uniforms and re-schooled in the new ways of the new world.
Shalini is one such transgressor who is termed as a Panchkarni( category 5) and is nabbed because of committing a crime of marrying a man of other religion and community. Over the due time of six episodes, Shalini attempts to find her missing daughter, dodging surveillance, intelligent systems, ruckus thugs and uncovering a political conspiracy along the way.
Director Deepa Mehta certainly shoots Huma in a manner that emphasizes her closure. In moments where Shalini is forced to make tough choices her face is confined in uncomfortably tight close-ups sans makeup. And it is in those moments that Huma gets a chance to show off her acting muscles. The shots of filthy streets, gated walls, water cuts, pollution, giant garbage dumps with hues of the dark-colored shot shows the future of India- portraying a real picture. The dystopian world owned by a fanatic sect is strangulated to pieces and does not bind your attention for a long time. The journey of a mother to find her missing daughter is shown in a puzzled way. I did not find the hype in the series as in the trailer. Though the art of narrating the story gets a bit difficult, post the first two episodes but watch it with some great concentration.
The depiction of characters in the due course builds up the consistency, making you infatuated in the make-believe world. If dystopian fiction related to mass poverty, public mistrust and suspicion, a police state or oppression interests you. Only if you want to see a courageous series where India is shown under the Draconian rule, gaze it. Watch only if you if dystopian fiction related to mass poverty, public mistrust, and suspicion, a police state or oppression interests you. Only if you want to see a courageous series where India is shown under the Draconian rule, gaze it.