LEILA is the latest addition to the Netflix India’s list of TV shows to gather a stronger audience, it is based on a novel written by Prayaag Akbar who is the son of M J Akbar. Directed by Deepa Mehta, Shankar Raman, and Pawan Kumar. After seeing many Hollywood and other western movies create a whole new genre out of dystopian futures, with great hits including the Insurgent trilogy, 12 monkeys, minority report. To see an Indian based dystopian future was definitely a mouth-watering perspective.
Right after the release of the series, it started getting a lot of hate for showing a lot of resentment towards the current government. Leila was claimed to be Hinduphobic and showed the religion and its followers in an extremist and bad light. Set in the late 2040s India is shown facing a number of problems and we are introduced to Shalini and her journey.
Leila doesn’t talk about world politics or what’s the state of other countries in the world, but only about a future within huge walls in our own country. To see that the budget allowed such a big set to be erected, the art director definitely needs huge recognition and the director too, for having a grand eye for the project and not scaling it down to match a lower budget, movies like this work based on the believability and that comely along with the scale at which that dystopian world is shown.
Leila was definitely taking a punch at Hindu practices and beliefs and agendas of the so-called “Hindutva” parties, the women are called “doosh” for marrying men from other communities and are forced to learn their true purpose, which is to serve men. Does this go to show that the current government is lenient towards the freedom of speech or have they not reached that level of censorship yet? Netflix continues to be a platform for such content after Sacred Games and Ghoul had already been blamed for such content.
But on a technical level, Leila is nothing short of a tiny milestone in what India has leveled the playing field with the rest of the world. The acting by Huma Qureshi and Siddharth and other actors are top-notch. The writing in many parts regarding the complex emotions and especially when Huma finds herself in the place of her former maid, who couldn’t even take a bath every day.
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The water crisis and the garbage dumps, the ideas definitely seem inspired by such prior works in the west, but Indianises it well and adapts it to our environment. The camera work and the color grading do a good job in setting the mood for the imaginary world.
Altogether, Leila is a technically strong, emotionally driven, sentimentally harsh attempt and has definitely satisfied the audience who can finally see the environmental problems faced by them at a platform such a Netflix.
The Garbage dumps, Polluted air and the state of Poor Children do not look part of the fictitious world but rather our very own present which often is forgotten in chase for a brighter future.