When Vikram Chandra wrote the book Sacred Games in 2006, little did he know that more than a decade later, the digital medium will offer new perspectives to the entertainment world. Vikram’s book, rewritten by Varun Grover, Smita Singh and Vasant Nath has been made into a web television and is the 1st Netflix original from India.
Season 1 has already been released and has taken the country by storm, apart from being appreciated overseas as well. Smart marketing has led to a huge spurt in subscriptions as one month free offer was given. Certainly, there will be some who will avail the free one month offer and then exit but there will be many who will continue, and probably Netflix is confident of retention.
The book itself is more than 900 pages and probably justice would not have been done to it in a single movie of three hours. The digital medium offers that flexibility. Season 1 has 8 episodes of 45 minutes each, and there shall be 4 seasons of 8 episodes each. In an interesting division of duty, the writers have divided the episodes among themselves. For season 1, Varun has written Episodes 1 and 8, Smita Episodes 2,3 and 6 while Vasant has penned Episodes 4, 5 and 7.
Similarly, instead of one there are two directors who happen to be close friends and associates. Vikramaditya Motwane was earlier assistant to Sanjay Leela Bhansali before starting independent work. His 1st movie, Udaan was for Anurag Kasyap’s production house. Sacred Games is directed by both Motwane and Anurag.
Saif Ali Khan and Nawazuddin play the main roles of a Mumbai Cop, Sartaj Singh and a mafia Don, Ganesh Gaitonde. However, they are seen together only in the ending of the 1st episode. Thereafter the story of Nawaz is told in flashback mode while the story of Saif is of current times. Saif’s scenes are directed by Motwane while Nawaz’s are by Anurag Kashyap. The 3rd main character of Season 1 is Radhika Apte who plays the role of Anjali Mathur, a RAW officer.
The 8 Episodes of Season 1 are based on Hindu mythology and skilfully weaves the myth to the storyline by drawing parallels. Episode one is titled Aswatthama, who was invincible, and Gaitonde says that he too will remain forever, if not in body then in mind. Episode 2 is Halahala, the toxic poison while episode 3 is named Atapi Vatapi, the 2 demon brothers who kill travelers.
Kuckoo is introduced in episode 3, a sought after bar dancer who is taken by Gaitonde from the reigning mafia don, in a symbolic shift of muscle power. Episode 4 is Brahmahatya and it says that there is a God in every human and killing a human is like killing God. The connect with episode 2 is more clear, since Halahala is communal hatred, where innocents die.
Episodes 5 and 6 are named after the mythological character Sarala and the Hindu puranic text Pretakalpa, both themes adroitly woven into the current story. Episode 7 is on the mighty deity Rudra and episode 8 is named after Yayati, the Cursed King.
To sum up the entire theme, Gaitonde tells Sartaj that he loves Mumbai and in just 25 days Mumbai will cease to exist, with only Trivedi remaining alive. The story develops at a frenetic pace as Sartaj tries to solve the mystery as to who has planned to destroy the metro.
What next for Sacred Games. Season 2 is expected to be premiered after a few months, with its shooting to commence from September. In Season 2, Pankaj Tripathi who plays a Godman named Guruji is expected to be the main negative character while the story of Gaitonde will continue.
Apparently, Motwane may not direct Season 2 as he was too involved and too serious and stressed while filming the 1st season. In season 2 we will possibly know about the 17 years Gaitonde was missing from Mumbai. We are also likely to know who Trivedi is, a person described as IFS type in season 1.
What next for Netflix. They seem to be committed to exploring the huge Indian market and Indian community abroad. On August 24, their action horror miniseries Ghoul starring Radhika Apte and Manav Kaul is to be released.
Digital is indeed here to stay.
The blogger, Ritesh Misra, is an IRS Officer currently based in Mumbai. He tweets @riteshmisra. His hobbies are sports, films and music.
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