The shock of the centrality of shit, oops faeces, in a megapolis like Mumbai is what got one’s gut in Slumdog Millionaire. The answer to that shock administered by Danny Boyle is answered by Sacred Games, helmed by two, not one, directors. Forget the unparliamentary word in the first sentence and more, if you want to enjoy the extreme verite version of Mumbai without the candy wrappers and the successive insults and the cusswords.
Saif Ali Khan plays Inspector Sartaj Singh of Mumbai Police whose wife has left him. In this coming of age episode that is dealt with over 8 instalments, Sartaj is first dragged through hell and high water by the force of Ganesh Gaitonde, ably menacing and disturbing psycho babble brought to convincing life by Nawazuddin Siddiqui.
The ease with which the two directors, Vikramaditya Motwane and Anurag Kashyap, bring the script of Vikram Chandra’s novel to life is a feat that should be credited to the scriptwriters led by Varun Grover.
Though formulaic, Sacred Games, the first original India series from Netflix, is up there with the production quality of House of Cards, bits of Breaking Bad and other crime dramas. A stellar cast essaying clichéd roles with new spunk, newcomers shining through like diamonds in the rough and every formula trope, is brought to life.
You feel for Constable Katekar, you wish Radhika Apte did get to meet Saif with that bottle of whisky, you wish the old VJ was not playing something as deadpan as an assassin and carry it off. Kubbra Sait brings oomph, Surveen Chawla gets the high end, there is some nudity. Hey, this is Netflix after all!
The directors’ wide angle catches the political, economic and social tumult and the heat and dust of India and Mumbai and the communal crevice on which the country has slipped and is continuing in its downward trajectory. I have watched the series over last night and today despite the gloom of England making it to the semis of the World Cup. It is time to read the book, a hardbound edition of the first print run is somewhere in the house. (Jai Hind!)