Leila Web Series Review: A tale of purity centre with muddled storyline

Updated: Jun 18, 2019, 15:45 IST | Pratiksha Mestry | Mumbai

Leila, a six-episode web show starring Huma Qureshi released by Netflix on June 14 is a dystopic drama about a religion. The directors have tried hard to focus on multiple angles with a dazed narrative

Huma Qureshi/picture courtesy: Huma Qureshi's Instagram account
Huma Qureshi/picture courtesy: Huma Qureshi's Instagram account

A: Drama
Director: Deepa Mehta, Shanker Raman and Pavan Kumar
Cast: Huma Qureshi, Rahul Khanna and Siddharth
Ratings: Rating

Created by Urmi Juvekar, Leila is based on Prayaag Akbar's novel by the same name. The show is directed by three different visionaries - Deepa Mehta, Shanker Raman and Pavan Kumar, starring Huma Qureshi, Rahul Khanna and Siddharth.

What happens to an upper caste girl who marries a man from another religion? This religious propaganda, with a dash of political agendas, Leila talks about such inter-caste union, which was a grave threat in the 1990s. The entire storyline revolves around the dissection of society into the pure and impure sect, along with the elites, the normals, and of course, the outcasts. The impurity is judged on the basis of such inter-caste marriages, who are later sent to a purity centre, managed by the aristocrats of religion. The only agenda of Aryavarta, a purity centre, is to sterilize the society.

The series starts where Shalini Pathak marries Rizwan Choudhary, and the only way to purify her deeds is to live with Aryavarta, a group of people who heal the muddled women by brainwashing their thoughts. From constant punishments for personal decisions (as per the aristocrats) to giving them opportunities to get back to society by passing the Shudhi (purity) exam, Leila fails to connect on different paradigms with a dystopian story lover.

Watch the trailer here:

A day at Aryavarta:

While the sleepless nights and dim-lit rooms make Shalini imagine her dead husband around, a normal day at Aryavarta starts with a pill, a dirty pool where every woman uses the same water to wash them off, and an act to purify themselves. A day at Aryavarta is no less than a nightmare. Constant abuses and crass behaviour doesn't make this haphazard six-episode web show an out-an-out dystopia. 

For the story fanatics who yearn for dark and gritty content, must have already deduced this one as The Handmaid's Tale. Well, Leila has a dash of Divergent trilogy too. A fast forward to the future, dated 2047, Leila talks about the dark side of a religion. A world where clean water is also a luxury, and the outcasts, who crave for cleanliness and basic necessities have to face the flake of pollution.

The division of society with high-walls, making each and every sect realise where they stand, and of course, the moral policing by the patriarch of the society will make you cringe as you reach closer to the climax. Kids born in Aryavarta, to the ladies who have been forcefully brought for purity, are later sold to the childless powerful class. Shalini's quest to find her daughter Leila will give you all The Handmaid's Tale feels.

PS: This show has its own phrases too!

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