Is Netflix’s Betaal Based on a True Story?

The intrigue of the zombie genre lies in its representation of how it forces us to confront death. The “living characters” in zombie shows and movies come to face to face with death only to eventually join its ranks and surrender to it. While some zombie shows are simply driven by their grotesque violence, others bring in new ideas to capture the interest of viewers. Netflix’s ‘Betaal’ does the same and instead of taking a typical approach towards the genre, it draws its inspiration from Indian folklore and attempts to offer something unique. Speaking of which, to know more about the inspirations behind its storyline, read on further.

Is Betaal Based on a True Story?

No, ‘Betaal’ is not based on a true story but it draws its inspiration from Baital Pachisi (or Vetala Panchavimshati),  which is known to be a collection of Indian tales and legends. The classic fables of Baital Pachisi revolve around a legendary King named Vikramāditya and the trials and tribulations he faces while capturing a vetala (or Baital or Betaal), a celestial spirit often associated with vampires. Many would also be familiar with the Indian TV adaptation of the same, titled ‘Vikram Aur Betaal’, which released way back in the 80s.

Netflix’s ‘Betaal’ is more of a contemporary adaptation of ‘Vikram Aur Betaal’ which adopts some of the core ideas of the original but keeps its overarching plot relevant for the present times. Just like the source material, the two primary characters of ‘Betaal’ are Vikram and Betaal. Although Vikram in the Netflix series isn’t a legendary King, he serves as a leading force for humans who struggle to survive against Betaal’s godly rule. Speaking of Betaal’s abilities, these, too, draw inspirations from the real Betaal in the original story. Similar to the original Betaal, the one in the show has the ability to animate dead bodies and is driven by its desire to take over the world.

In an interview, the creator of the series, Patrick Graham (‘Ghoul‘), said that he was very intrigued when he first learned that even Bram Stoker’s Dracula was inspired by the folklore surrounding Betaal. When he learned that Betaal was also a widely worshipped god in India, he decided to further explore all the mythology behind it and recreate a version of it in the show.

Is Colonel John Lynedoch Inspired by a Real Person?

In the Netflix show, the Betaal embodies a Britsh Colonel named John Lynedoch whose rule was previously overthrown by Indian freedom fighters. The army of soldiers that Betaal uses to attack Vikram is revealed to be an old Brtish regiment named 90th Taunton Volunteers. Colonel John Lynedoch and his regiment are both completely fictional and even if they share any similarities with real history, it is purely coincidental. As the show suggests, no such British Army Officer was known to be an evil practitioner of black magic.

However, to add a sense of realism to its plot, the show makes sure that its characters look convincing. All the soldiers of the 90th Taunton Volunteers depicted in the series have uniforms similar to that of the real British Indian Army soldiers. Apart from that, the show, in some ways, also alludes to the Indian Independence Movement through its portrayal of Indian soldiers fighting against the East India Company. Even so, since it is nothing but a zombie thriller, most of its real-life references are to be taken with a grain of salt. If you’re looking for an in-depth explanation of the show, you can refer to our explainer of the same.

Read More: Betaal Ending, Explained