Before I had watched Netflix's 'Squid Game', I was surrounded day and night by the show's constant PR from all four sides. When I went on Twitter, I saw cinephiles and binge-watchers praising the show and on Instagram, every second post was a meme on the show, which I made sure to ignore. When I asked Google Baba for recommendations, Squid Game topped the list and as if this wasn't enough, when I met my friends, they only talked about Squid Game, as if they were the creators of the show.
I felt that if I had to survive in this post-Squid Game world, I had to watch it. And boy oh boy, when I started it, I stayed awake till 4am and when I could no longer keep my eyes open, I kept the rest of the episodes on download and woke up early with such excitement as if it was School's picnic day and I couldn't wait to play all the games and have fun with my friends.
And that's exactly how I felt after finishing the nine-long-felt-short episodes.
The South Korean survival drama follows a group of debt-ridden, good-for-nothing losers in the outside world, entering a secluded island to play the games that could change their lives. All the games are simple and very familiar. Each of them has been played by the characters in their childhood. However, the only catch is that if you lose in these games, you don't get to go home, rather you are killed. But the upside is if you win all the six games, that would by default mean the last man standing (oops! Spoiler), you get to take home with you the sum of 45.6 billion won. Stop! Don't Google it. I'm here to make life easier for you. So, 45.6 billion won of Korean is approximately 258 crore in Indian rupees. Now, if some guy in a black suit offers me a card with shapes that we find on a joystick and tells me that this could solve all my problems, I'm dialling that number. Would you?
Squid Game is termed by most of the articles as a dystopian survival thriller, which means the possibility of it happening in real life is very slim. But I say it's not dystopian at all. It's the reality of modern times. The working-class, buried deep in debt, compete among themselves, trying to beat each other by hook or cook, to reach the finish line first and earn the money that could potentially turn their lives around. And maybe this is the reason that a foreign language show has found such a wide audience in countries where Korean is not even a second or third language. People connect with these characters; they relate to them and imagine themselves in the shoes of these players because they very well might be in the near future.
Even though it's a foreign language drama, the survival instincts are the same in all human beings. And even the creator and director of the show, Hwang-Dong-hyuk, made sure to add elements within the show that gave it universal appeal. It has characters from all walks of life. Some young, some old. Some strong, some weak. Some cunning, some kind. Many men and few women. Though the female characters are less than a handful, they are written with such precision that even a 10-minutes screen time is enough to make you fall in love with them.
There are also sub-plots within the show like close friends betraying each other, strong players killing weak ones to reduce their competition and strangers sacrificing themselves for the sake of others. It's said in the show that these players are like horses in a race. Out in the field, they have to lookout for themselves and be ruthless, cruel, and unkind to the other players. But the show takes a very philosophical turn at the end. It tries to relay the message that, 'We are not horses. We are humans. And humans are not unkind, selfish, or cruel. They care and look out for others because humanity is still alive.
The show does end on a positive note but there are ups and downs throughout the nine-episodes. You connect with the characters, you start praying for them, you cry for them, you curse them but mostly you enjoy them. From the very beginning, the show maintains a fast-paced approach and is thoroughly intriguing. And when you start to think that this is the end and there is nothing more to it, the show throws its trump card and surprises you with a shocking suspense reveal that the mastermind behind all of this is a player among them.
So, if you are curious to find out who won the gigantic sum of 258 crore rupees, which you will never see in your life, and who the mastermind is, watch Squid Game right now.