Betaal review: Not too high on sense or scares

Netflix India’s curse of producing sub-par content continues with their latest release, Betaal. With an interesting premise and major production houses backing the project, there was hope of a home run. Instead, we get a web series which begins on a positive note but quickly spirals into a convoluted mess.


Betaal opens with a group of villagers protesting against a building company’s efforts to construct a highway over their land. Fed up of these antics, their boss Ajay Mudhalvan (Jitendra Joshi) calls in the Baaz Squad of the CIPD, a peacekeeping force responsible for handling hostile situations in the region.

Led by their commanding officer, Commandant Tyagi (Suchitra Pillai), the squad forcefully clears up the area and moves on to unblock an old tunnel which the locals believe to hold a curse beyond imagination. After an unnecessary shootout, the path is cleared and workers enter the tunnel to clear it further.

What follows is a massacre as a zombified battalion of British soldiers powered by Betaal’s curse is awakened. The Baaz squad consisting of Officers Vikram Sirohi (Vineet Kumar), DC Ahluwalia (Aahana Kumra), and Assad Akbar (Jatin Goswami) along with their men run and find refuge within an abandoned military barrack.  

As the night passes their worst fears come to life. Their internal squabbles are never-ending but they have a common enemy to face. Supernatural forces start taking hold on the squad, all puppeteered by the ruthless Colonel Lynedoch (Richard Dillane), leader of the undead army.

Assisted by a local girl, Puniya (Manjiri Pupala), they must overcome their personal issues to focus on the real threat and maybe get out alive.


One of the few good things about this web series is the cast’s performance. Kumar’s role as the squad’s second-in-command is worthy of applause. Sirohi is a very grey character with major personal conflicts and Kumar does all the right things to portray them on screen.

Jitendra Joshi plays a selfish and crude builder and absolutely nails it. He is able to generate immense hatred for his character with the slightest effort. If the creators intended a textbook baddy, they got one.

Kumra, Pillai, Pupala, and the rest of the cast too put their best step forward. Even Syna Anand, who plays Mudhalvan’s daughter Saanvi, is outstanding. Their efforts would have had a greater impact on the show had the writing been better.


Betaal does very well in highlighting the role of power and corruption in business and society. The whole operation to clear the village succeeds by killing innocents who the squad believes to be terrorists. They are manipulated into believing so by their own commanding officer who wants the work done by any means possible to impress politicians.

The conflict of being a good soldier who does what they’re told blindly or a traitor who does the right things is a major part of the story. Sirohi’s internal conflicts are a living example of this debate. He has a dark past where he has done things he’s not proud of in the name of following orders.

All the technicalities fall into place as well for Betaal. There are some great cinematic shots, the background score is decent and even the VFX blend seamlessly together.


The writing lets this web series down majorly. The story is not hashed out in a way that makes complete sense and the pacing is a bad rollercoaster. The dialogues are cringy and the plot is divided into just four episodes of 45 minutes which messes up Betaal extensively. More episodes with a consistent pace, information, and action would have made this series a better watch for sure.

It is literally a tale of two halves. The first two episodes build up a premise that holds promise but turns into a yawn fest.

The latter ones are the complete opposite. The series picks up with so much speed that its suddenly hard to keep up with all the lore, action, subplots, and just chaos which is sewn together. It is just laughable at times.

Speaking of lore, even though the zombies look decent, they feel nothing more than props. There is the common ‘zombie bite spreads infection’ concept and they seek to eat flesh but that is where it ends. These undead warriors attack in formation and shoot guns from the 1800s which somehow have unlimited bullets.

There are inconsistencies in their abilities and weaknesses which also are never properly explained. At one point they’re all mindless beasts but they also behave like intelligent soldiers who even play a ritual drum before an attack (how they got one after 200 years is a mystery).

A good part of the series is used to explain the importance of burning the dead in order to truly kill them. However, it is not something that is extensively followed and they drop dead easily with assault rifles.

Furthermore, the dreaded Colonel Lynedoch makes an appearance at the end for a few minutes and the plot then rushes for an ending, which is also not the conclusion. The makers clearly tease a second season which is probably not the best idea.

Worth it?

Betaal beings nothing special to the table and continues to give this genre a bad reputation in our country. There was a ray of hope with the premise and the initial buildup and had the makers paid more attention to execution, it could have been a win-win situation.

Also Read: Ghoomketu review: A slapstick comedy misfire

Netflix India's curse of producing sub-par content continues with their latest release, Betaal. With an interesting premise and major production houses backing the project, there was hope of a home run. Instead, we get a web series which begins on a positive note but...Betaal review: Not too high on sense or scares