A stellar cast, a fluid narrative and no over-the-top Bollywood heroism and lo we have the first India based Netflix Original that can truly compete with the rest of the world. Before we even go into the details of the series I would like to pause for a moment and express my awe for Nawazuddin Siddiqui, the true focal point of the entire series.
The series begins with Sartaj Singh (Saif Ali Khan ) a honest-downbeat Mumbai policeman who is going through a rough patch with his peers, superiors and life in whole, getting a call from a notorious gangster Ganesh Gaitonde (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) who gets him going on a wild goose chase. Ganesh claims that the country is going to burn in a matter of 25 days and with that he takes his own life. Anjali Mathur (Radhika Apte), a RAW analyst chances upon the exchange and joins the hunt with the motive of proving herself as a field agent as well as protecting the country.
Co-directed by Vikramaditya Motwane and Anurag Kashyap the series draws two parallel universes one which depicts the rise to power of Ganesh Gaitonde and body trail he left behind in his wake and the other the 25 day countdown to doomsday. It’s a credit to the story teller when he is able to easily mix both timelines and stories so seamlessly and provide us with a compelling narrative that keeps us glued till the very end.
The series also boasts of some out of the ordinary support cast performance by Neeraj Kabi (Parulkar), Jitendra Joshi (Katekar) , Shalini Vatsa (Kanta Bai), Anil Charanjeett (Chota) and Jatin Sarna (Bunty). Every single one of these characters riddled with shades of gray and are fighting their own demons. I do not remember the last time when every single member of the acting crew of an Indian production provided us with such a compelling performance. I would even go on to add that this is probably the best performance of Saif Ali Khan since, I do not know when 🙂 . Radhika Apte, although a lead character, was notoriously underutilized in the series. Despite all the above Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Ganesh Gaitonde stood out as the stand out performer in what I would term as a revolution for Indian television.
The series might hit a few nerves with the honesty in which certain aspects of our Indian way of life like religion, politics and history are handled but all I have is respect for the makers for spitting out things as they are, in all its earnestness.
It’s not without it flaws as well. The parallel narrative where Gaitonde tells his story to Satraj gives some insight into Gaitonde’s past but does not really explain to us how it places itself in the story. The way the first season ended left us with a lot of questions and it would be a disaster if Netflix chooses not to renew ‘Sacred Games’ for a second season.
I would rate Sacred Games as one of the very best i have seen of Indian television and would suggest this to anybody interested in crime, thriller, mystery genre. For the folks who do not understand hind/marathi/punjabi ,- Netflix has done a wonderful job with English audio as well. There is nothing stopping you 🙂