Gripping pace, gritty visuals and graded background score. All this unveiling the stories of two men in parallel timelines, intertwined in the undercurrents of Mumbai’s dark corners.
The opening scene is a disclaimer of the brazen recital that is to follow. The first few minutes set the premise for the best use of a censor free medium. You now know this is for the brave-hearted content hungry audience all set to binge.
The story at its heart is a face-off of good vs evil, with its personification by multiple characters at different times. But our hero is the villain.
Ganesh Gaitonde is reminiscent of Faizal in many ways. Wouldn’t dare to typecast Nawazuddin, but Ganesh brings back the power and finesse of the character that demands undivided attention when on screen. “Apun ko kabhi kabhi lagta hai apunich bhagwan hai”, says Ganesh Gaitonde, and for Siddiqui, I believe the same. Gaitonde’s narration is a like a lecture on immorality that derives lessons from history with much laud. He poses many uncomfortable questions about God, religion and crime that take the story from thriller to political contemplation and back. His journey from rogue to mafia boss through flashbacks and layered storytelling is the kind of twisting that demands a second, third run.
Saif Ali Khan as an almost honest cop struggling with his own baggage, digging deeper into the web of Gaitonde’s narrative is delightful to watch. A well-sketched character of Sartaj is only next to Gaitonde with lesser epic dialogues but comparable intensity. Then there are Kubra Sait, Rajshri Deshpande, Jitendra Joshi, Radhika Apte, Girish Kulkarni and Neeraj Kabi breathing life into their unabashed characters. Jatin Sarna as Bunty is indeed a great find and I am certainly hopeful of seeing more of him on the screens. This talent pool with some of Anurag Kashyap’s favourites is the storyteller’s backbone.
The directors have finally gotten an opportunity to let their stories breathe without the mask of censorship and hence you see a powerful blow to everything that is usually hushed. The dependence of politics on religion and vice versa is ominous to every conspiracy unfolding.
There this Kashyap’s signature unrelenting savagery in this typical gangster checklist of sex and violence. Vikramaditya Motwane’s directorial addition to this makes it a binge-worthy stylish melodrama. Visual craftsmanship and the constant nail-biting developments elevate ‘Sacred Games’ from the likes of any usual underworld or crime-chase show.
All in all Sacred Games has enough going on to keep you glued from start to end. With its rustic local feel and global familiarity, this is our bet to stand amongst the best of great international content on Netflix. It is just one sip less than full 5 cuttings for me, two reasons – 1) the first few episodes could have been slightly tighter, 2) Only Gaitonde excused from looking/speaking Marathi? It is some detail that would have added to the truth of the character.
Meanwhile, waiting eagerly for season 2 and planning reruns till then!