Scary picture of India in Netflix's ‘Ghoul’ fails to frighten

‘Ghoul’ fails to scare. (Netflix)
Updated 29 August 2018
0

Scary picture of India in Netflix's ‘Ghoul’ fails to frighten

  • Ghoul is purportedly a horror, but although frights are thrust upon us, the horror is quite minimal
  • The pace is lazy and the suspense is unconvincing and both Apte and Kaul wear a deadpan expression most of the time

CHENNAI: Netflix’s second India-based original after “Sacred Games” paints a fearful picture of the country where democracy, justice and personal liberty are under severe threat.

Written and directed by Patrick Graham, the television series, whose three episodes began streaming a few days ago, is set in the near future, and talks about some of the scary events in the country. The army has taken over to control sectarian violence and secret prisons have been established where terrible torture is the rule. And all this to put down dissidence. The targets are political leaders, student activists and some Muslims. Saeed (Mahesh Balraj), a terrorist, is being hunted down.

Heading an army detention center is Sunil Da Cunha (Manav Kaul) and assisting him is Radhika Apte’s Nida Rahim, who, to prove her loyalty to the state, turns over her own father to the army. His crime is that he has been teaching his college students things not in the syllabus, and also encouraging them to question authority.

The events take place over a day and a night, and Nida enters the center not quite knowing what to expect. She is shocked when she sees bloodshed and brutality there, and when Saeed is finally caught, he has a message for her.

Really not a patch on “Sacred Games,” Ghoul is purportedly a horror, but although frights are thrust upon us, the horror is quite minimal. 

The pace is lazy and the suspense is unconvincing and both Apte and Kaul wear a deadpan expression most of the time. The one character who briefly registers her humanity is Laxmi (Ratnabali Bhattacharjee). Sunil’s deputy, has a fiery temperament. “I like nightmares, they relax me,” she quips.


Get hooked on traditional Palestinian embroidery

Updated 2 min 36 sec ago
0

Get hooked on traditional Palestinian embroidery

DUBAI: I just finished cross-stitching my first Gaza cypress tree motif, begun around the kitchen table of the UAE-based artist Joanna Barakat, who gives workshops on Palestinian embroidery, or tatreez. Next up: Motifs from Hebron, Ramallah and Jaffa.

Until I took her class, which she’ll be teaching at Tashkeel in Dubai next weekend, I hadn’t paid much attention to the stitches that adorn the region’s fabrics. Now, I read them like signposts for clues as to where they’re from.

Barakat, who was born in Jerusalem, begins with a talk on the history of tatreez, showing us photos from different regions before 1948 and passing around examples of her grandmother’s work.

We learn how embroidery was more elaborate for weddings, how women incorporated their environment in their work — Jaffa, for instance, has an orange motif — and how it reflected their status. Bedouin women stitched a blue hem on their dresses, adding red motifs if they remarried. “Each tribe had its own style and its own way of dressing to express their identity,” Barakat says.

The Nakba in 1948 almost killed off the tradition, as women lost access to the region’s textile factories. “Everybody was traumatized,” she says. “You had a good decade there where almost nothing came out.”

But their resilience resurfaced in their craft, earning them a living in refugee camps. “It became a symbol of resistance and empowerment.”

In that way, Barakat uses embroidery in her paintings: in one self-portrait, a needle punctures her chest on the canvas, “trying to stitch my own Palestinian identity into me,” she explains.

Her workshop may have stitched some of that into me as well. After giving us our own cross-stitch kits, with Aida fabric, green threads and cypress tree patterns, she shows us how to stitch, correcting us patiently as we go. As they might say in crochet class, I’m hooked.



Joanna Barakat’s workshops on Palestinian embroidery are at Tashkeel in Dubai on Sept. 29 and Dec. 8 for $73, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. with a one-hour break, lunch included. Email [email protected] for more information.