Leila – As Brave As it Can Get
A gripping tale, a treat for lovers of this art
Leila, a new Netflix original is based on a book by the same name written by Prayaag Akbar. The series tells a bold tale that highlights the tragedies of Indian society in a clever way.
Set in a dystopian future, the story revolves around a mother who sets out to find her missing daughter. It creates a dark future where religious extremism has taken over India which is now known as Aryavarth, or land of the Aryas.
The story begins when a few goons of Aryavarth, a totalitarian state controlled by ‘Joshi ji’, break into the home of Sheila (Huma Qureshi) and her husband Rizwan Chaudhary (Rahul Khanna).
Intercaste and interreligious marriages are prohibited in Aryavarth and Sheila has married a Muslim man. The goons kill Rizwan and eventually take away their daughter, Leila.
Sheila is also abducted and taken to a facility where all women who are guilty of such ‘sins’ are incarcerated. The show depicts Sheila’s struggles to run away from this place and find her daughter, in a larger political setting where everything is controlled by Aryavarth.
The screenplay, written by Urmi Juvekar, Suhani Kanwar and Patrick Graham, doesn’t hold back from showing a gruesome, gruesome reality. At various instances the writers force you to watch the show with politically tinted glasses. There are many nuances and references to the current political scenario that cannot be ignored.
Quite apart from its vivid take on the political system, the show has a gripping story that won’t let you lose interest. Here and there the screenplay seems to lose its grip on the plot which is a little irritating to watch, but overall the performances by Huma Qureshi and Siddharth (who plays an officer of Aryavarth) save the day.
Leila creates a future which is technologically advanced but never too far from the present, coupled as it is with black rain and polluted lands. This makes it all the more believable and horrifying, notwithstanding various minor inconsistencies. Each time one’s attention wanders the overall narrative comes to the show’s rescue.
It is worth mentioning how it is with the help of platforms like Netflix that Indian creators are able to tell such courageous stories, which had become nearly impossible under traditional systems of production and broadcasting.
The show ends on a point which leaves the viewer angry and also intrigued, waiting for the next season. Leila will make you ponder about the world we live in. A gripping tale and a treat for lovers of this art.