Patrick Graham – the Indian Netflix evolution
Who is Patrick Graham? And how has this man taken India’s Netflix by storm? Let’s find out. Patrick Graham is a super underrated Director and writer slowly making his course into the Indian Film Industry with his collection of dark and controversial Netflix mini series’s. There’s not a whole lot of information on him online however I’ve recently watched all three of his brilliantly crafted works-‘ Leila’, ‘Ghoul’ and ‘Betaal’.
Without a doubt Netflix’s ‘Ghoul’ has been praised immensely for its horrifying visuals, unsettling scenes and ofcourse Actor Radhika Apte stealing the show with her mind blowing performance. I really enjoyed ‘Ghoul’ and I hope so much for a second season even though I know Patrick Graham likes to leave it at one season and not have a sequel for his mini series. As someone who’s very much a Cult Classic Horror fan, Ghoul was a truly thrilling experience. Bringing in the concept of ‘Jins’ in this dystopian Nationalist India was an even more ‘fresh ‘ concept. The thought of Hinduveta’s being targeted by possibly their worst fear. The show has a lot of Grit, a lot of excellent visuals and great Cinematography that makes Ghoul truly a terrifying experience. The Indian film industry has failed us many times with its cheesy horror and predictable plots but was completely fresh and new take on horror beautifully woven into a disturbing storyline.
After watching Ghoul I was so hyped up to see ‘Betaal’ knowing Patrick was involved. Here’s an unpopular opinion but I kind of loved ‘Betaal’…it didn’t hit me as hard as ‘Ghoul’ but it was also quite nerve wrecking. A lot of people hated ‘Betaal’ and it surely got a lot of terrible reviews however I thought it was an excellent attempt at merging the Indian tale of ‘Vikram and Betal’ and a British redcoat Zombie army turning it into a complete ‘Freak Fest’ in this fictional village. I see a lot of links in Graham’s concept – such as his deep rooted interest in Indian folklore and bringing it to life in a so-called fictional reality. Whether it be Jins or Zombies, he is always bringing something fresh to the table which I appreciate. Graham also presents a very old VHS 80’s Thriller vibe in his films giving it that intentional B- Grade touch especially in Betaal. Although the acting was Mediocre at best, I was still intrigued and very involved through the film.
A lot of people didn’t understand the comedic purpose of the film which was a very prevalent part from the glowy bulging eyes of the Zombie representing ‘demon eyes’ in Indian myth Alongside the ghost of the British Colonel and his last deal. These elements are very storybook like as supposed to be because Vikram and Betaal has always been a grandmother’s tale. The scenes as well its purpose was very well thought out and executed. The film wasn’t supposed to be a gutting Horror like ‘Ghoul’ but rather a Creepy twisted tale. I enjoyed this new Folktale like approach very much, and being able to execute such a fictional and far fetched concept in such a vivid way was its brilliance. The idea that you could bring back the British redcoats as zombies that walk free is a pretty scary thought, and it almost reminds me of old Hollywood classics like ‘Night of the Living Dead’ or ‘Planet dead’ with that touch of old 80’s cliche instead with an Indian twist.
I just didn’t want to do the same old thing or for these zombies to look familiar. I didn’t want it to just look like Dead Snow. It can be easy to fall into a traditional comfort zone there. British Redcoat zombies can look awfully similar to Nazi zombies. I didn’t want to just have these rotting corpses and I thought that there should be more of an Indian flavor present. I was literally looking at Indian folklore and also if you check out these statues of demons in India you’ll see that they all have these bulging eyes. I always thought that was an evocative image and so I wanted to touch on that with these bulging eyes that always kind of glow.
I thought a lot about movies like The Fog—these movies that aren’t necessarily cheesy, but have this “VHS horror” vibe from the ’80s. I just love making the monsters just a little bit kitsch. But yes, there was a lot of work to give them more of an Indian slant. Their fangs curve to the sides, which is a bit of this Indian appearance, and their eyes are bulging out of their faces. I wanted to create a monster that felt a little more novel than just some rotting corpse.–
A Fresh Take
While I liked Both Ghoul and Betaal , Leila didn’t quite stand out to me as much because of its slow pacing and stretched out storyline. Some scenes felt unnecessary and unexciting while others were very visually striking. We already know Patrick Graham has mastered the art of creating a Dystopian world with offbeat characters both terrifying and ruthless. Leila’s backdrop is what is so exciting about it as well as even extremely relevant , In a near-future world where an oppressive Nationalist regime segregates society, one woman skirts the system to search for the daughter taken from her years ago.
A backdrop very similar to his film Ghoul, which makes me wonder if all of this taking place in the same universe or reality. Whatever it may be… the link is quite clear and Patrick Graham does not shy away from going all out with his story giving every character that edge and Grit with dark undertones and twisted situations. Not going to lie but I’m really excited to see what he’s going to come up with next and I know it’s going to be something offbeat, original and very iconic ‘Patrick Graham’.