Paatal Lok (transl. Underworld) is an Indian Hindi-language crime thriller web television series on Amazon Prime Video, created by Sudip Sharma, who wrote the script along with Sagar Haveli, Hardik Mehta, and Gunjit Chopra, and directed by Avinash Arun and Prosit Roy. The series was produced by Anushka Sharma, under the banner Clean Slate Films, and stars Jaideep Ahlawat, Gul Panag, Neeraj Kabi, Swastika Mukherjee, Ishwak Singh, and Abhishek Banerjee. Loosely based on Tarun Tejpal's 2010 novel The Story of My Assassins, the series is about a disillusioned cop who lands the case of an assassination attempt gone wrong.
Sudip Sharma wrote the script in January 2017 and took more than a year for writing and pre-production. It is filmed across more than 110 real locations, with Paatal Lok being the first web series to be shot at Chitrakoot. The cinematography for the series was handled by Avinash Arun and Saurabh Goswami, with editing done by Sanyukta Kaza. The background score was jointly composed by Naren Chandravarkar and Benedict Taylor. The series marked the debut of Clean Slate Filmz (a production house led by Anushka Sharma) in the production of television series for the digital medium.
Paatal Lok was premiered on Amazon Prime Video on 15 May 2020. The series eventually received rave reviews from critics, praising the performances of the protagonist Jaideep Ahlawat, and other lead characters, storyline, writing, and direction. The series was listed in the Top 10 Indian Web Series of 2020, by The Indian Express. Variety magazine listed Paatal Lok as one of the best international TV shows of 2020.
Paatal Lok received eight nominations at the inaugural Filmfare OTT Awards and won five awards – Best Actor (Jaideep Ahlawat), Best Series, Best Original Story, Best Screenplay and Best Direction (Avinash Arun and Prosit Roy). In May 2020, the makers announced that the second season is to be conceptualized.
The show revolves around Hathiram Chowdhary (Jaideep Ahlawat), a cynical cop who gets assigned to investigate a high-profile case. As he gets caught in the investigation, he gets dragged into the darker realms of the underworld. Paatal Lok is inspired by traditional concepts of Svarga, Dharti and Paatal (heaven, earth and the hell), as metaphors for the different classes of India and the four estates, with the Paatal (hell) being served as the prime phase of the storyline, which takes places in East Delhi.