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Sacred Games  : An Orgy Of Crime & Grime
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Friday, July 13, 2018
Action
Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane
Saif Ali Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Radhika Apte

 

The body comes hurtling down a multi-storeyed apartment and lands near a bunch of startled schoolkids. 

 

It’s the bloodied body of a dog that’s been viciously thrown from somewhere up there. Elsewhere, a bleeding woman drags herself across a corridor, turns and taunts a guy that he’s been f…ed up for 20 years. He shoots her in the face.  

 

And the cops-and-crime thriller-drama directed by Vikramaditya Motwane and Anurag Kashyap begins. Picking up Vikram Chandra’s novel Sacred Games a dozen years after the book was released, Motwane and Kashyap set out to give Netflix an Indian version of Narcos with an 8-episode first season.

 

Mumbai’s dirty world of violence, fostered by religion, politics and the mafia, is Kashyap’s favourite hunting ground. And with Motwane as his partner, he dives right in with the glee of a deviant relishing an orgy. The unblinking blood spill, the rawness of sex for pure lust and the hunger for money and power, everything satisfies an inordinate craving for excess.     

 

Gangster Ganesh Gaitonde has surfaced after 15 years to contact Sartaj, a turbaned cop. Why has he chosen to speak to the under-performing Sartaj whose uprightness has branded him a loser in the Mumbai police force where compromise with the truth is the way to success?

 

Gaitonde has a dire message for Sartaj. Save Mumbai, it’s going to be annihilated in 25 days.

What’s going to happen in 25 days? Why did Gaitonde return and what’s his connection with Sartaj Singh and his late father who was a constable in the same force?

 

The internal dirt in the police force and the potently destructive cocktail of religion, politics and crimeare employed to provide the answers.God, blood and twisted studs dominate the screen. Without the disapproving snip of the Censor Board on the Netflix platform, unfettered profanity, rough sex with nudity, and violence including torture, are used for the storytelling.

 

For those acquainted with Anurag Kashyap’s Wasseypur, this is familiar territory, only starker on every front; he and Motwane make use of the license to overspill.

 

The narration swings between Gaitonde’s life as a gangster and Sartaj’s investigative attempt to beat the deadline of 25 days. The intrigue builds. However, it’s a bit convenient and cliché in a few places. For instance, Anjali Mathur, a deskbound analyst from RAW thirsting for action on the field, hospitalises an injured criminal integral to the plot. But there’s no security ring thrown around him with only a solitary policeman on duty and no instructions to the staff or the cops to screen those who can access his room.

 

Another time, after Sartaj who has delivered beyond expectation, finds an actress who’s in the clutches of Bunty, an abusive gangster they’re looking for, Anjali uses her to nail the criminal. But the woman is left to her devices with no back-up or protectionfrom RAW except for Sartaj who has a conscience.  

 

Sartaj has to go against his conscience to unspool the bigger conspiracy against the city. But Parulkar his superior who’s been on the wrong side all through his career and has consistently sneered at Sartaj’s integrity, has a sudden change in ethics when his junior goads him to do what’s right.

 

Of course, viewers will be piqued to watch Saif Ali Khan as turbaned Sartaj with a permanent frown-line on his forehead. There is both consistency and dignity in his performance. Nawazuddin Siddiqui plays Gaitonde with required rawness. Radhika Apte is suitably earnest as RAW officer Anjali Mathur. But be warned. She’s not the one providing any sizzle this time around.

 

The casting of all the players, and there are many, is impressive. 

 

Verdict: This is not nail-bitingly brilliant Netflix fare. But having binge-watched all eight episodes in order to do justice to a review, the verdict would be that it is an interesting and intriguing experience for the Indian viewer, watchable especially for those who like the gritty grime scene.

 

Direction: 4/5
Story: 3/5

Screenplay: 3/5
Dialogues: 3/5

Music: 2.5/5

 

Reviewed by

Bharathi S Pradhan
Senior Journalist & Author
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