In India today, navigating your political stance is a cautionary and somewhat eerie process. This is why Patrick Grahams Netflix horror series Ghoul is a confrontational and disturbingly familiar experience. Set in a dystopian, fascist reality in which any dissent against the government is met with brutal consequences, Ghoul is a wakeup call for the Indian nation.
What Is A Ghoul?
Derived from ancient Persian mythology, a Ghoul is a terrifying demon that uses one’s own guilt to systematically break and eventually consume them. The series is set in a Military interrogation center where ‘anti-nationals’ that are synonymous with terrorists, are subjected to unspeakable torture. The protagonist Nida works as an interrogator at this detention center. Her father is a professor who is intellectually stubborn by nature and does not cease easily to political propaganda. When he is caught with illegal literature, Nida considers it her patriotic responsibility to turn him in. Exasperated and furious, her father ritually summons a Ghoul to the detention center, with a warning that everyone will pay for their sins. What follows is a bloody massacre with Nida being the only survivor. She eventually finds herself on the wrong end of the system and feels the need to summon the Ghoul herself this time.
Current Political Climate
Considering India’s current political climate, this dystopian, authoritative and oppressive regime doesn’t seem that distant. On the 28th of August, a team from the Pune Police in Maharashtra raided the homes of several activists across the country, out of which five have been arrested. The arrests occurred in Faridabad, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Mumbai. This happened just three months after the arrest of five human rights activists on grounds that they were plotting with Maoists.
The supreme court has condemned these arrests claiming that they were far from constitutional. Yet, prime-time news is blatantly labeling these intellectuals terrorists calling them ‘urban Naxals’. A day after these arrests, the Pune police leaked two letters to some sections of the media, the contents of which appear to be discussing a Maoist plot to assassinate the Prime Minister. The authenticity of the letter was not investigated or presented in court before it was sent to the media, which is a violation of the law.
This enables the media to shift the public focus on to these orchestrated terrorists. Instead of focusing on the investigation of cases against Hindutva leaders, Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide. These are the same people who have been accused of making provocative speeches that instigated the violence in Bhima Koregaon.
For years now, the State has taken proactive action to crush dissent. An apparent tradition of Journalist assassinations and silencing criticism is in effect. Words like ‘anti-national’ and ‘terrorist’ are thrown around dangerously often.
This is why Ghoul is an extremely relevant commentary. As a nation, we actively advocate for violence in the name of State values. We aggressively silence any opposing views, allowing power to centralize and consequently abused. And it only seems to be getting worse. The recent arrest of activists all across the country is yet another testimony to why the supernatural forces of a Ghoul might be useful.
By Karina Acharya