“Bhagwan ko maante ho? Usko lund farak nehi parta.” (Do you believe in God? He doesn’t give a fuck.)
‘Sacred Games’ (2018-present)
Netflix has brought a revolution in Television history. Recently it started producing international television shows in non-English languages and came up with shows like ‘3%’, ‘Dark’ and quite a few more. Netflix gives the show creators full creative freedom and that’s why anything is possible in a Netflix show. So when I heard that Netflix is producing an Indian show I was hyped, totally. In a country where censor board scissors adulterated stuffs and controversial concepts, a show in Netflix would mean a fine, unadulterated concept. The creators were going to be Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane, two of the guys who knows exactly what to do with their concept. Vikram Chanda’s 2006 novel ‘Sacred Games’ was chosen as the concept and when it released worldwide on 6 July this year, I instantly sat in front of my laptop screen putting everything behind and I found myself binge-watching the show 8 hours straight!
The show is a cat-and-mouse thriller with social commentaries scattered throughout. The show starts rather explicitly and is followed by a controversial comment on God (see the quote) and follows up the story of Inspector Sartaj Singh (Saif Ali Khan), who receives an anonymous phone call from notorious gangster Ganesh Gaitonde (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) telling him that he has 25 days to save Mumbai city. Sartaj races against time to uncover the plot for the attack in Mumbai while also struggling because of the amount of corruption in his force and gets help from RAW agent Anjali Mathur (Radhika Apte).
The concept may seem familiar to some, but the execution and showing real-life footage of what India went through during 80’s and 90’s gives it a more documentary-type feel (much like another Netflix original ‘Narcos’). Everything in the show fits in, and having full freedom on creativity that Netflix provides, the director and creator duo Kashyap and Motwane shows us what they are capable of. The show is so intense and gripping from the start that if you watch the first episode, you will not be able to help yourself to continue, losing track of time.
The story takes you on a journey and with each reveal your heart will start bearing faster. The city of Mumbai (or Bombay/Bambai) becomes a character itself in the story and the chasm and feuds between classes and religions felt authentic. There’s a real technicality to a lot of the action with a mixture of long and short shots, a real understanding of artistic framing and a masterful use of color and lighting. Kudos to the cinematographers Aseem Bajaj, Swapnil Sonawane and Sylvester Fonesca for their exquisite camerawork that brought more depth and realism into the story. The show holds no barriers in use of expletives, violence and sex which might seem unusual for an Indian show. While the main focus is on Nawaz and Saif, there’s still a decent amount of time spent with the supporting cast of Radhika Apte, Neeraj Kabi, Aamir Bashir, Girish Kulkarni, Jeetendra Joshi, Jatin Sharma, Kubbra Sait and a plenty of others (psst, Sunny Pawar, who amazed us in his performance in ‘Lion’, plays a young Ganesh Gaitonde) who are allowed the time to grow while never losing focus on the main plot that remains suspenseful and enjoyable throughout. The show’s almighty cliffhanger in the finale will leave you wanting more. ‘Narcos’ gave us ‘Hijo de putas’ and this is our answer to them with ‘Behenchod’. Incredibly bold, thought-provoking and violent and featuring some well fleshed out characters with a haunting background score by Alokananda Dasgupta, ‘Sacred Games’ puts the our country on the map and is a surprisingly endearing series and one of the dark horses for the year.
P.S. – If you have exams the next day, don’t you dare start this show. It is highly binge-worthy and you will find yourself sitting in front of a screen for 8 hours straight like me.