“Betaal” Review: A Dark But Dull Tale Of Zombies & Bloodbath

Mohnish Singh |May 28, 2020

Betaal is produced by superstar Shah Rukh Khan under Red Chillies Entertainment for Netflix. The 4-episode series stars Viineet Kumar Singh and Aahana Kumra in prominent roles.

Betaal is a zombie drama set in a remote village called Nilja. The series marks the second digital production of Shah Rukh Khan. He has produced it for Netflix. The superstar has earlier bankrolled Bard of Blood (2019) for the streamer. A lot of expectations were riding on Betaal because it was the first time when an Indian webseries was exploring the zombie genre mounted on such a huge scale. Does the series live up to all the expectations? Let’s get straight into Betaal review.

Story

The story of Betaal unfolds in a remote village of Chhattisgarh called Nilja. CIPD officers Vikram Sirohi (Viineet Kumar) and DC Ahluwalia (Aahana Kumra) are tasked with a mission to clear off the village from the Naxal clutches as the government has given a go-ahead for the construction of a highway.

Upon reaching the ground zero, Sirohi and his team realize that there is more to the situation than meets the eye. But before the CIPD squad could comprehend anything, they are faced with an army of undead British soldiers back from the Sepoy Mutiny era. What happens next forms the crux of the story.

Betaal
Betaal is produced by superstar Shah Rukh Khan

Screenplay & Dialogues

The webseries, produced by Shah Rukh Khan, boasts of a great premise. But unimaginative screenplay and bland dialogues fail to exploit its full potential. Instead of working more seriously on the script, the makers seem to have invested more time in creating a large canvas to play out the story.

Resultantly, the scale of the series may look massive and formidable, but the absence of a strong storyline which keeps you on edge makes the whole exercise empty and meaningless. Betaal is a zombie thriller. While you may find a lot of zombies while watching the series, the same cannot be said about the thrill.

Performances & Direction

Coming to performances, the entire cast has done a brilliant job. Viineet Kumar is the backbone of the series. He has never disappointed with his performances and the actor maintains his track-record with his latest work as well. Aahana Kumra is also praise-worthy in her powerful part. Siddharth Menon and Suchitra Pillai have done a good job in supporting characters. Manjari Pupala, who plays the character of Puniya is outstanding.

Betaal has been jointly helmed by Patrick Graham and Nikhil Mahajan. Though the two get the most out of their actors, the overall impact of the series is lacklustre. Some scenes are not impactful at all. The transition from Betaal being a cursed tale of tribals to a lackadaisical saga of greed of the powerful and capitalists is not very convincing. The makers try to say so much in a little time.

Betaal
Betaal stars Viineet Kumar in the lead role

Technical Aspects

The background score of the series is effective and impactful. It creates the right impact when and as required. Cinematography of the series is also commendable, but there are certain scenes which are too dark to grasp them.

There are some lengthy conversations as well, which add very little to the narrative. Some of them could have easily been edited out. Another issue which sticks out like a sore thumb is the makeup, especially of the zombies and undead. There is no consistency. VFX could have been better.

Highlights

Performances
Cinematography
Background Score

Drawbacks

Screenplay
Dialogues
Direction
Makeup
VFX

Did I Like It?

No

Final Verdict

Betaal lacks spine-chilling moments which make you jump out of your seat. If you have not seen any zombie show or film before, then you may find the very concept of the series novel and nail-biting. For those who have binge-watched legions of zombie shows and movies in the past, it is certainly not worth their time. Having said that, the terrific climax of the series is unmissable. I am going with 2.5 stars.

Webseries Credits

Platform: Netflix
Banner: Red Chillies Entertainment
Director: Patrick Graham, Nikhil Mahajan
Writer: Patrick Graham, Suhani Kanwar
Cast: Viineet Kumar Singh, Aahana Kumra, Suchitra Pillai
Episodes: 4
STARBIZ Rating: 2.5*

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