Women are breaking through multiple barriers in the pop culture landscape nowadays – soaring over burning cities atop their giant dragons, saving people from bloodthirsty zombies and to taking a journey ending in them ruling England. However, a particular show has taken up a different kind of genre for women to take the lead. Directed by Patrick Graham – Ghoul – a web mini-series on Netflix, takes up the genre of horror to portray womankind as strong and brave.
Ghoul has its setting in a dystopian future wherein discrimination, death and atrocities are at their peak. The fascism that entails authoritarianism and dictatorship rule the world, with discrimination against followers and proponents of Islam becoming rampant.
Nida Rahim, played by Radhika Apte, is a military officer who is actually in support of the prevalent authoritarian regime and believes that the present regime will cleanse society of its evils. The story entails her discovering the dreadful truths about the regime and the military, along with the ongoing interrogation of a notorious terrorist who in turn is a creature so terrifying that it haunts nightmares in itself – a ghoul.
Strong Female Character
Nida is strong, intelligent, driven and determined to serve her country in the best way possible. She completely believes in the regime in place and that it would enable the cleansing of society from the evil that is terrorism. Her belief in the system is of such magnitude, that she turns in her own father to the officials when she suspects him of being ‘anti-national’ – by being against the authoritarian regime.
She is extremely skilled in being an interrogation specialist; a prodigy as to being recruited weeks before completing her training. She possesses incredible combat skills, observational and analytical skills, coupled with a keen intellect, as shown multiple times throughout the show, being able to engage in combat against multiple military officials and the ghoul itself.
Possessing incredible mental fortitude and the personality to go with it, she is a marvellous character, even if in the end she gives in to her dark side, killing the commanding officer (well, he did deserve it) and then, planning to summon the ghoul to apparently slaughter a lot more people (just conjecture, we’ll know for sure if there is a second season). Nevertheless, her bravery and skill render her a character worthy of acclaim and hence she garners a lot of respect from the audience.
The atrocities are of such an intense magnitude as to shatter the walls of conscience inside the psyche of a person.
Ghoul, as I already mentioned, is set in a dystopian future of authoritarian regime – where people’s freedom and basic rights are at the disposal of the state. Discrimination against Muslims is widespread due to the rising number of terrorist threats and acts in the world; as can be witnessed by the police harassing the central character along with her father, the elderly maulvi detained in the prison, and the clincher – the revelation of the death of Nida’s father.
The atrocities are of such an intense magnitude as to shatter the walls of conscience inside the psyche of a person, as shown in the finale wherein it is revealed that these institutions are not what they seem. They are a front for the conduction of horrific acts – ‘anti-nationals’ are brought here to be tortured and murdered after interrogation, a fate suffered by Nida’s father too. Hence, the horror of this dystopian abomination of a place is pretty illuminating.
Ghoul shows a woman leader in a strong and fierce manner. Nida can serve as an inspiration to a lot of women out there. Ghoul portrays her as a leader and a and determined individual with a gentle heart and an ironclad will and motivation to do what is good and just; which, given the horrific setting of the series, looks to be next to impossible. The show also indicates that women can excel in stereotypically non-masculine activities – such as combat and analytical abilities, thus projecting that the airtight pre-defined gender roles in society are arbitrary and untrue.
The society has progressed and even though gender roles have diluted a little, most of them still persist and pervade not only in the Indian social landscape but across the globe as well. Hence, shows like this act as a reminder that no one should be constricted and confined in their life based on others’ mindset – people are complicated and they will surprise you.
Featured image used for representative purpose only. Image source: Netflix