Leila Review: Co-Directed by Pawan Kumar, It Is A Cautionary Netflix Tale Which We Deserve

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leila review

The Netflix Original, Leila starring Huma Qureshi and Siddharth dropped all its episodes on Friday Afternoon. Executive Produced by Deepa Mehta and directed by Deepa Mehta, Shanker Ramen, and Pawan Kumar, here is my review of Leila.

The World which is Scary and Claustrophobic

Leila is adapted from the novel ‘Leila’ by Prayaag Akbar which was shortlisted for the Hindu Literary Prize. Leila is set in the dystopian era of 2047, Aryavarta. Aryavarta, the country, is undergoing a cultural transformation. Those who are pure, live a luxurious life and those who are “impure” must undergo purification before getting to live a life on their terms.

Showrunner Deepa Mehta should be given the credit of creating the world which is scary and claustrophobic. The show, although told as a dystopia, is in a way a mirror image of the time we live in. The segregation of people based on religion, caste, and gender, the constant debate between the supreme leader and the father of the nation and even the scarcity of water.

leila review

Huma Qureshi carries the show on her shoulder

The performances are top notch. There isn’t any moment where the acting looks artificial or forced. The emotions emoted by each and every actor looks genuine. Huma Qureshi carries the show on her shoulder. She is present in almost every scene. Watching Siddharth is always a pleasure and here too, he has made his presence felt. The supporting cast is terrific right from Guru Ma to Madhu and even to the little kid Leila.

There are certain moments of brilliance in the show. The shopkeeper hiding the portrait of Mahatma Gandhi from the members of Aryavarta is too real. There is also a minute scene with reference to the scholars who were arrested a year back for plotting the murder of the Prime Minister.

leila review

Leila lacks a bit of heart

The intelligence of the story is right up there with any other show in the world but Leila lacks a bit of heart. Every nuance caters to what the makers have to say but you don’t feel it. The struggle of a mother to find her kid in the lost jungle of brutality should have dented your heart a little but it just falls short.

The imaginative capabilities of the makers deserve applause. The show constantly throws a question at you. The entire world of Aryavarta seems like a prison and is not much different from the world we live in. So, in that world, would you fight for yourself or would you fight for the collective good of the society?

leila review

Deepa Mehta, known for her elements trilogy Earth, Fire and Water, have directed three of the six episodes. Pawan Kumar, the Kannada filmmaker known for his path-breaking films Lucia and U-Turn has directed two episodes including parts of the finale. Shanker Ramen who did the brilliant ‘Gurgaon’ two years ago also has directed two episodes including parts of the finale.

Leila is a well-made show with the right intent and lack of heart. The finale episode suggests of a possible season 2 but we will have to wait for the confirmation from Netflix. If it gets another season, like today, I would be binge watching it for sure.

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