Netflix has already earned the reputation of producing fantastic series and they did not disappoint with their latest endeavour-Sacred Games (2018). Simultaneously, this series runs two story line, divided by coupe of decades. Fantastically performed by the actors and direction from a couple of brilliant directors, the storyline deals with Mumbai mobs and their rivalry of 80s and 90s. Riasat Raihan reviews the story of government collapse, Hindu-Muslim religious conflict, corruption scandals and what not.
The global domination of Netflix took another step with the release of ‘Sacred Games’ last month. Ever since Narcos, Netflix didn’t look back when it come to their own production. With Sacred Games, which is the first Indian Netfilx original release, a large part of Netflix’s plan for global domination has gone to another level.
Sacred Games is based on Mumbai mob, the story is adapted from Vikram Chandra’s highly acclaimed book. It’s a tale that encompasses eight episodes. There is a certain amount of stylishness in this TV series, but it’s in service of a brutal, dominating story.
Let’s dissect the story and plot of the series. The screenplay is adapted and written by Varun Grover. Very few of us know that Varun Grover is a talented comedian and lyricist. Writing screenplay for Scared Games was is his first attempt at screenwriting, and needless to say, he does an amazing job. Basically, in this show, there are two storyline sunning parallel- one from 80s and another is the present time. So, two stories of different centuries are going on simultaneously.
Not many series you see will captivate you from the first scene of the first episode till the very last end. Capturing moments of India from the 80s to 2018 is not an easy task but Grover does it flawlessly. The series kicks out with a situation, where, the protagonist Sarjat Singh, played by Saif Ali Khan, gets a call from an unknown caller. The caller tries to manipulate Singh by saying things. But gradually, it is revealed that the caller is Ganesh Gaitonde, a notorious criminal of Mumbai played by none other than talented Nawazuddin Siddique. Gaitonde was presumed dead for the last 15 years but now he is back to give a very deadly message to Sartaj Singh. In the phone call, Ganesh says everything from the beginning to the end and this conversation is shown in each episode of the series. The deadly message by Ganesh to Sartaj is to save Mumbai city in 25 days before everyone gets killed. Before Sartaj could know what exactly is going on, he tries to confront Ganesh but as soon as Sartaj enters his hideout, Ganesh shoots himself in head. That leaves the greatest mystery to be resolved for Sartaj Singh at the end of the first episode.
Sacred Games is filled with mystery and storytelling quirks. Sartaj Singh is an honest cop who has a failed marriage and he is trying to cope up with corruptions in his department. But it is actually Siddique who owns the series, as his gangster story unfolds episode by episode. Religion is one of the major themes that this series explores. The story line deals and explores different complexities of Hindu-Muslim relationship in India. Well, there are some flaws in the plot too. But it doesn’t seem dull though because of endeavours from all the performers and of course the edgy work of the directors. Overall, the storyline is captivating and entertaining. Government collapse, Hindu-Muslim religious conflict, corruption scandals, gang rivalries of the 90s, women issue and a lot more- all shifting and twisting around smoothly within a single storyline.
Now let’s talk about the performances from the actors. The lead actors of this series are Saif Ali khan, Nawazuddin Siddque and Radhika Apte-all well established and critically acclaimed performers. The series also has an array of brilliant supporting actors played by Neeraj Kabi, Jatin Sharma, Kubra Sait, Jitendra Joshi and Luke Kenny. We all have seen Saif Ali Khan as an average actor in his Bollywood performances. But he literally gives his best for the role of Sarjat Singh. He demonstrates great effect on screen with fascinating acting skills. Radhikha Apte has been a terrific actor from the beginning of her career. She does the same in Sacred Games too. Her role has elegance. But the real winner in terms of performance and acting is Nawazuddin Siddique. I think there is nothing that this man cannot pull off. He has been phenomenal on the screen as Ganesh Gaitonde. You just cannot get bored with his acting. Siddique can make you laugh, he can make you cry and even he can terrify you by his gangster roles. Every second he is on the screen, you cannot scroll down your eyes from him. Every dialogue has been delivered exceptionally well by him. The supporting cast were brilliant too, especially, Jatin Sharma’s role as Bunty. His role, as a Muslim hater and a hit-man will make you hate him even more.
Now we will shed some lights on the technical aspects of the series. The eight episodes are directed by Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane. Anurag Kashyap is an internationally acclaimed director. Arguably, he is one of the best directors that India has ever produced. The dark humour and crazy camera work he uses in his films are mind bending. He takes those into another level with sacred games. He is often considered as the actors’ director. He has this ability to extract the best from his actors and other crews. Along with him, Vikramaditya is nothing less. He has proved by his series that he and Anurag both deserve to be on an international stage like Netflix. They both have the calibre to do greatness in making films. But it is a loss for India that the works of directors like Anurag and Kashyap aren’t overwhelmingly accepted by the mainstream Indian audience.
Lastly, Sacred Games is energetic, entertaining and bone tickling suspense. It leaves us with thousand questions at the end of the last episode. Its plot twists demand seasons. Because, we want to know the fate of Mumbai city and we cannot wait to see the impact at the end of 25 days deadline given by Ganesh Gaitonde. This could be India’s first web series which explores the potential of directors and the skills of their storytelling through images. Needless to say, I am eagerly looking forward to the second season of Sacred Games as the fate of Mumbai.
Riasat Raihan is a member of the New Age Youth team.
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