Sacred Games was by far the most anticipated web series at least this year. Starring the who’s who of the new wave of Indian cinema and directed and written by some of the best minds in the Indian film industry, Sacred Games gained mainstream popularity as soon as the trailers and on-set photos made their way to media outlets. The series stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Saif Ali Khan, Radhika Apte, Kubbra Sait in the main cast. Here’s our complete review of the Netflix Original web series, Sacred Games.
Sacred Games is based on Vikram Chandra’s book of the same name, and so it has Ganesh Gaitonde, an urban gangster with somewhat of a god complex, contacting a low-level inspector in the police force, Sartaj Singh about a conspiracy that will be dangerous and lethal for beloved Mumbai. Sartaj has a hunch that the gangster is telling the truth, while the female R&AW, played by Radhika Apte is the only person who believes in the hunch.
Mumbai is a cauldron of sex, crime, organised crime, spirituality, con-men and everything else – and that’s what makes this city a fascinating watch. And Sacred Games brings all this to the fore. Each character is as relatable as they’re detestable – or lovable – whatever side of the fence you are sitting on. Whether it’s Ganesh Gaitonde or Sartaj Singh or so many of the other minor characters, the scriptwriter takes us deeper and deeper into his verse with every nuance.
The characters are as fantastic as they are ground. Sacred Games shows Mumbai at its best in its worst. Interestingly, some of the aspects, like a transgender being the reason of good luck are so Mumbai, even though many of the newer, yuppie crowd wouldn’t understand or know – but people of a certain vintage will give a nod to it. Whether it’s the transgender in love with a gangster or a whole clump of people working towards what seems illogical, stupid and fantastic – this is the best love letter Netflix could have written to Mumbai.
Directing anything about Mumbai require a special skillset. Thankfully, everyone connected with the series has Mumbai in their DNA and that’s what works for the series. There’s a silent coursing from the brutal scenes to the delicate drama scenes – and with Anurag and Vikram at the helm, the direction leaves the audience spellbound.
The performances stand out and the sincerity with which everyone play their characters is a rarity in Bollywood. Saif Ali Khan essentially unstars himself to play a character that’s essentially an underdog who just can’t rise the occasion, how much ever he wants to. Nawazuddin Siddiqui is well Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Radhika Apte excels as the no-nonsense, almost unemotional agent who knows something is amiss. But the stand out performance is Kubbra Sait, who plays one of the most unique characters in the history of Indian cinema, if not cinema. It is she who is the emotional heft of the series.
With Netflix, you don’t generally talk about the production values – what will the millions of dollars that they are putting out there for content acquisition. And like every web series on the big streaming platforms every penny spent is visible on screen. The art directors do a great job of portraying a Mumbai that begins after the last kilometre of a Colaba kid’s mad night ride.
What’s Wow: Netflix has made things difficult for other content creators with the kind of stuff they have put in Sacred Games. This is one of the few almost flawless web series that are out there. One of the best aspects of the series is that the screenplay uses the sexual dynamics as a means of character evolution and even creation. Future film makers who want to add sex to their series should learn from Sacred Games to know what defines ‘relevant’ and what defines ‘vulgarity’.
What’s Blah: In the screenplay, there are some sequences that might seem unreal and slightly illogical, but then maybe that’s Mumbai mayhem at work.
Parting Shot: Netflix has changed the game for Indian web series with Sacred Games.