Sacred Games Review (SPOILERS): The Start of a Really Interesting Story

Already wrote my no spoilers review, I’m going to do a quick spoiler review here as sort of a catch all, and then do a bunch of tiny little episode by episode reviews so we can talk as we go along.

Fair warning, I completely lost track of the plot details somewhere along the way.  So this is a big picture summary, not a “and then this clue led to that clue led to that clue” summary.

Present Day Radhike Apte-Saif Ali Khan Story:

Saif is a Sikh police officer in Bombay trying to be honest.  He is under pressure from his supervisor Neeraj Kabi to lie about a shooting, and spends his days investigating petty crimes because he hasn’t managed to solve a case since catching a pickpocket years earlier.  His marriage fell apart, the only friends he has are his mother and his assistant Jitendra Joshi.  And then out of nowhere, he gets a phone call from Nawazuddin Siddiqui, a mysterious figure who knows everything about his life and claims to have been a friend of his father.  Nawazuddin babbles on with stories of his life and Saif tries to trace the signal.  He finally finds Nawazuddin’s hide out, breaks through the wall, and finds him just in time to see Nawazuddin shoot himself before he can tell what is the thing that is happening in 25 days, the terrible thing that will destroy the city.  This conversation was overheard by Radhike Apte, an ambitious analyst at RAW who comes to Bombay and forces her way into the investigation.  She also nags Saif into helping her investigation, which Saif is eager to do in order to find out what the connection is between Nawazuddin and his father.  Saif follows a link from the dead woman found with Nawazuddin and discovers she was a high priced pimp, her clients being lowlevel actresses and models.  Saif finds one of them, Geetanjali Thapa, a TV actress who is trapped in a relationship with the producer of her show and former Nawazuddin associate Jatin Sarna.  Saif brings her to Radhike who convinces her to go to Jatin next time he calls and try to get information from him.  Jatin traps her and plans to take her out of the country, Saif is furious with Radhike for letting her go and stops working with her, instead trusting Neeraj Kabi to help rescue Geetanjali.  Radhike’s plan and Saif’s interfere with each other and Jatin and Geetanjali both die, the lead is gone.  Radhike goes back to Delhi, only to return when she finds a new lead, identifies an assassin who killed a witness as an international terrorist.  At the same time, Saif has made his own discovery partly thanks to the death of his assistant Jitendra Joshi in a random arrest that went wrong, he realizes that the popular actress Elnaaz Norouzi is another former employee of Nawazuddin’s former pimp.  He goes to interview her and it leads him back to the same clues as Radhike, they work together again.  They separate at a train station when Saif hops a train while Radhike holds off the gang.  Saif is captured and tortured, his thumb cut off, but then rescued by Neeraj Kabi who seems to have finally chosen to support law and order no matter what.  Meanwhile, Radhike has followed her lead to the assassin’s apartment where she sees plans of the city, but is shot before she can call in her lead.  In the final episode, everything starts to be tied up, Saif learns how his father knew Nawazuddin and ties together the politician Girish Kulkarni and Nawazuddin and his hired assiassin.  Until he finally has a realization that the TV Guru Pankaj Tripathi is the hidden hand he has been looking for, and goes back to investigate Nawazuddin’s hide out again to discover a fall out shelter under the floor, indicating a much larger attack than just the guns they have already found and seized.  END SERIES 1


Past Nawazuddin Siddiqui Story:

Nawazuddin starts his life story in his phone call with Saif in the first episode, and his story continues after his death.  While Saif is moving forward incrementally day by day in his investigation, Nawazuddin’s monologue covers decades of his life in leaps forward.  Nawazuddin was the son of  a Brahmin in a small town.  His mother secretly slept with men for money while his father was making the rounds with his begging bowl.  His mother and her lover were killed and his father taken to jail, Nawazuddin grew up on his own and landed in Bombay where he met Vikram Kochar and started dealing drugs for him.  Eventually they ended up working for a gold smuggler, Nawazuddin killed him and stole his gold, which made his name in the city.  He partnered with a jeweler to launder the money, and then found a smart tough older woman who gave him advice and helped him see the money in the trash mountain in their neighborhood and helped him viciously take over control of the neighborhood.  Nawazuddin consolidates his power with the help of his first gang recruits, two Muslim brothers, and his next recruit, Jatin Sarna, a Hindu chauvinist.  This is also the first time he runs afoul of Neeraj Kabi, then a lowly inspector and in the present day Saif’s boss.  Nawazuddin next becomes rivals with another gangster “Issa” and in a first attempt to defeat him, steals his “lucky charm”, a bar dancer Kubra Sait.  She goes with Nawazuddin willingly and his luck changes, he becomes the top power in Bombay.  He allies with the Hindutva powers for the first time to help local politician Girish Kulkarni get elected by killing or beating the Muslims so they can’t vote.  Tensions start to rise in his gang between the Hindus and Muslims.  At the same time it comes out that Kubra is a transexual (or intersex?  It’s a little unclear).  Nawazuddin says he will stand by her, but she doesn’t care and still thinks she is bad for him, finally killing herself in the middle of an attack on them by Issa’s men.  Nawazuddin is furious and goes to war with Issa.  In the middle of it, he decides to get married and plans a big wedding with the help of his respectable fence.  But on the wedding day, Issa ambushes the fence and kills him and his wife.  The respectable bride backs out, and instead Nawazuddin decides to marry the tough maid Rajshri Deshpande who cared for him when he was sick.  He can’t consummate the marriage until he learns who the mole was in his gang, his first recruit, the older Muslim brother.  He kills him and kills his innocent younger brother as well, and then consummates the marriage and is now in love with his wife.  Which just makes him more heartbroken when Issa attacks again and kills Rajshri.  He goes wild, killing 80 innocent Muslims and burning down the neighborhood, and the police can’t ignore it.  He is arrested and beaten and tortured in jail every day, which is how he meets Saif’s father, temporarily assigned to the jail to help Neeraj in “interrogating” him.  Saif’s father is a decent man and feels bad for the torture Nawazuddin is going through and sneaks him food and a flashlight while he is in solitary.  And finally, a phone, which let’s Nawazuddin talk to Pankaj Tripathi and start him on a new journey.  And Nawazuddin confesses to Pankaj his original crime, he was the one who killed his mother and her lover, as a small child, and his father took the blame.

Image result for sacred games netflix



As I was watching this, I started to feel a bit like I had a superpower, like I could see the future and predict the next plot twist.  And then I realized I wasn’t predicting plot twists, but rather Bombay history.  I knew that Kubra Sait was going to be a transsexual or inter-sex because I had read Maximum City which talked about the real life transvestite top dance hall performer (transvestite, not transsexual, which I find much more interesting.  It was just his job, he had a wife and a life back home.  Too complex for this series I guess).  I knew that the religious attacks were going to lead to a divide in the gang because that is what actually happened in the 90s between Dawood Ibrahim and Chota Rajan.  Except in this, it is a Muslim who leaves the gang not a Hindu, and his nickname is “Badda” (big) instead of “Chota” (small).  And I knew that Nawazuddin’s lengthy torturous time in jail would lead to him being saved by a Hindutva figure and learning to love and follow him, just like Sanjay Dutt.

What is really cool is that it shows the stuff from Bombay history that isn’t usually acknowledged.  There is a comment about needing “25 years” to change things, which is a reference to both the 1993 riots (erased from history in most films) and an acknowledgement that the current people running the country are the same ones who created those riots.  And it shows the combination of the wise religious leader, the political candidate, the police, and the bureaucrat, clearly referring to the way Bal Thackeray used his followers to control the city without ever running for office himself.  These ideas are not fully explored here, but hopefully it will be addressed further in later episodes.

Image result for sacred games pankaj tripathi

(Anyway, you don’t cast Pankaj Tripathi unless you are planning to do more with him)

I was also very aware that the details of this story came from someone who was truly knowledgeable about Bombay.  Vikram Chandra, I don’t know a whole lot about.  But I know he is Anupama Chopra’s and Tanuja Chandra’s brother, which means he knows all about the film industry.  I know he co-wrote Mission Kashmir with Suketu Mehta, which means he was also friends with Rakesh Maria (Bombay’s top cop for decades).  And got to have first hand accounts of all of Suketu’s investigations into the underbelly of the Bombay crime world for Maximum City.  So I think we can more or less trust Vikram’s account of these things.  Or maybe I just think that because I’ve read Maximum City and that is my main reference for Bombay crime, as it is for Vikram Chandra.  Well, that and Sanjay Dutt, who he must also know thanks to Mission Kashmir and family connections.  The Arthur Road jail experiences Nawazuddin goes through here felt familiar to me from Sanjay’s stories.  A little more extreme, but still familiar.  And of course ending in the same way, finding salvation and religion from a charismatic leader.

Most of the time Vikram kept the details but flipped the religion.  Chota Rajan becomes Bada Badariya.  Instead of the bomb blasts making Chota Rajan (supposedly) doubt his loyalty, it becomes killing of Muslims in the gang war that makes Bada Badariya doubt his.  And Nawazuddin is arrested and held indefinitely without bail for killing Muslims, not for participating in the bomb blasts, as was much more often the case for gangsters.  This last bothers me the most.  The series makes a big deal about Nawazuddin killing random Muslims in the Muslim neighborhood and then setting it on fire, and of course the police would have to react and arrest him.  But it skips past the actual Ayodha riots, during which 100s and 100s were killed and no one was ever arrested.  Again, the details of that shameful part of Bombay history are hidden away, perhaps because they don’t fit the narrative of the rise of the Hindu don that this series wants to tell.  There is a reference to it, politicians come to Nawazuddin and ask him to be their “Hindu general” for an upcoming battle and he throws them out.  But then we never see that battle, never get clarification that they found another general to carry it out.

(For another version of the 90s Bombay gang war, there is Company, also on Netflix)

However, I will let it go, because we do get the earlier sequence in which Nawazuddin does agree to work for them and kills and terrifies Muslims so that they will not vote.  That is the risky statement, the thing you aren’t supposed to say, that these riots are created in order to terrify voters and steal elections.  And it is what I hope the series will return to as the story plays out, that Nawazuddin becomes the brutal arm of the political party, handing them power through violence.

I also hope we there will be some investigation of Saif’s religion.  It is supposed to be “Sacred Games”, all about religion, but so far it is only the past sections and Nawazuddin’s journey as a former Brahmin’s son that has been explored.  Saif’s Sikhism, so far, is only important in giving him a distinctive look.  But he wears the kesh and the kara, his religion can’t be meaningless to him.  Even the visual most have a purpose, Saif and his father standing out among all the other police with their proud turbans, and being the two honest policeman.  At some point there must be an investigation of what it is about their Sikh identity that contributes to this, the Sikh philosophy or simply feeling like an “other” in the midst of all these Maharashtrian Hindu cops which makes it easier to go against the crowd.

Image result for sacred games saif ali khan

In the same way, Neeraj Kabi’s chief assistant, Saif’s equal and rival on the police force, is a Muslim character.  The only notable Muslim character in the present day.  He doesn’t have much to do in these episodes besides get punched in the face by Saif, but surely they wouldn’t have made him a Muslim cop if they weren’t planning to explore that, in this world of Hindu extremists.  And they cast Aamir Bashir, a known actor, in the role.  He isn’t famous, but he is better than what I would expect for a character who mostly just stands there and says “yes sir”.

Unlike religion, the gender themes are fully explored in this group of episodes, and I am worried this will be the last we see of them.  Radhike Apte is our one interesting female character, and she is killed.  Which also, possibly, cancels out the interesting things about her.  Her storyline was a desperate need to prove herself in the field, arguing she is only behind a desk because she is a woman.  But then she went into the field and got killed, so maybe she wasn’t ready after all. Her character journey and meaning are erased retroactively.

Image result for radhika apte sacred games

The other female characters are well written and well acted, but still fall within familiar tropes.  Kubra Sait specifically references Parveen Babi in Deewar as her ideal.  And like Parveen in Deewar, or Rekha in Mukkader Ka Sikander, or any number of other loyal gangster moll characters, she ends up dying in order to inspire the hero to revenge.  Add on her intersex or transsexual status, and the death becomes even more trite.  And she is replaced by Rajshri Deshpande, playing the strong earthy Hindu wife, the one who gives encouragement and words of wisdom, before also being killed and inciting even more vengeance.  And then in the present day we have Geetanjali Thapa who starts out a little interesting, and then ends up being yet another silent damsel in distress for Saif to rescue.  Radhike’s character even calls out this trope, that he has to be the rescuer, and yet it still plays out.  And we have Saif’s mother, giving words of wisdom and understanding.  And his unseen ex-wife who he obsesses over as all troubled cops must obsess over their exes.

There’s also Nawazuddin’s female partner and advisor who, frustratingly, I can’t even find on the cast list so I have no idea who plays her!  She starts out strong, but then slowly turns into less of a gangster partner and more of a mother figure, in the present day she is being called on to bring food to Jatin, ordered around instead of listened to. The focus of Nawazuddin’s story changes to his relationships with his male gang members instead of the woman who helped him found his power base.

The one remaining female character that seems to have a bit more bite to her is Elnaaz Norouzi.  She plays a rising Hindi film actress, stuck in terrible movies produced by her co-star Karan Wahi’s father.  She tries to get out, claiming she is offered a better part in Ranbir’s superhero movie (surprisingly specific, I’ll come back to that), but Karan blackmails her with his knowledge of her call girl past.  And she uses that “savior” instinct to her own advantage, already a friend of Neeraj Pandi, she fakes a black eye and tells him it is from Karan, asks his help, and then frames Karan with a drug arrest, freeing herself.  Just in time for Saif to come to her to look for information because he has recognized her from an old photo before nose job and other alterations and knows she used to be a call girl who might have known Nawazuddin.  She is left behind by the plot after that, but I hope she comes back again, because she was a strong and interesting character.

(Also, she was in an ad campaign with Shahrukh!  That’s cool)

And she was our tie to the film industry!  There is surprisingly little about the film industry so far.  There is an acknowledgement that the Ramayana TV serial helped spread Hindutva, but no talk (so far) about the ties between film and gangs in Bombay, or film and politics.  And this is the area where I would assume Vikram Chandra would know the most, considering his family connections and that he himself co-wrote Mission Kashmir.  What little is there, seems accurate.  Actresses who came from nowhere and have a past as call girls, maybe kept working after their fame started as super expensive call girls.  Obnoxious producer’s sons who keep getting stupid movies handed to them.  And film stars volunteering to perform at police functions just to stay in their good graces and garner police favors.

I want more of this, more social details, because they are so very detailed.  Which is fascinating because it also means this miniseries is firmly aimed at the Indian audience.  Breathe, for instance, was a nice show with some little Indian touches, but overall felt the same as any other cop show.  But this, this gets into the nitty-gritty that only the locals would fully appreciate.  A Ranbir superhero movie mentioned as the Ranbir superhero movie is being filmed.  Casually references without much detail to Shah Bano and Rajiv Gandhi and the Ramayana TV show, as though we all already know about them.  Same for the bomb blasts, no details needed.  And a casual reference to an old 26/11 injury that one of the police officer’s is struggling with.  This goes far beyond the usual level of detail, to a place that only the Indian audience can fully appreciate.  Those are just the mentions I caught, I am sure there are many other references I missed because I am not Indian.

This is exciting to me, because it means the message of this miniseries, the idea it is trying to sell of religion as a game that is controlled by the Hindutvas who want to destroy the country, is going to be seen and heard not just by outsiders, but by locals, the Indians back in India watching this series.  It means that Netflix and Anurag Kashyap and Vikramadityan Motwane think the public is ready for and can handle this message.  I don’t know if they will end up being right, but I hope they will be.





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39 thoughts on “Sacred Games Review (SPOILERS): The Start of a Really Interesting Story

  1. `
    I’m a little clueless and need some background on the series. Did this ever play on “regular” TV or was it a made-for-Netflix thing? Or HBO? Where did it come from and where is it now?


    • It is a Neftlix original, just released on Friday. It’s based on a massive book by Vikram Chandra which was critically acclaimed but didn’t sell that well. Netflix approached Vikramadityan Motwane and asked him to develop an Indian series to help attract Indian subscribers, Vikramadityan found the book and brought in his partner Anurag Kashyap to help direct. It was filmed in India, using Indian artists, the first Netflix series like that but Netflix claims they are planning another 6 other series to be made in India in the same way.

      On Sun, Jul 8, 2018 at 10:17 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



        • Amazon Prime. They’ve been battling this out for about 2 years now. Prime has already done a major Indian series, Breathe. And there is a third factor, Alt Balaji run by Balaji telefilms who already dominate Indian broadcast TV. They are providing the highest quality and most interesting content and have for a while, so the Indian streaming market could stay local after all. Or else Netflix or Prime will end up buying out Alt Balaji and winning based on their library.

          On Sun, Jul 8, 2018 at 10:24 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  2. Just finished watching and then read your spoiler review. I think the series as a whole started brilliantly and still overall was great…BUT it got a little boring at times and Luke Kenny as the big baddie did not work for me at all. I also had issues with what they did with Apte’s character.

    For some reason until today, I hadn’t realized that this wasn’t just a one-off. I hate cliffhangers but now at least there’s several more series to look forward to and the potential for some more interesting stars to join the cast. And it will be cool to see Pankaj Tripathi do his thing in the next series.

    I didn’t read the book first since I couldn’t wait to binge the series, but I do still plan to read it soon.


    • Apte’s character just doesn’t pay off, does she? I kept think it was setting up something awesome, and then just when she gets awesome, she dies. It felt oddly stretched out without much purpose or anything to do. Hopefully whatever “strong female character” they pull in for the next season does a little more.

      On Sun, Jul 8, 2018 at 2:48 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  3. I liked the beginning episodes more than the final ones. Like someone said earlier Luke Kenny as the baddie just didn’t work for me – were they going for Arab terrorist with him? Dunno.. Also, I wonder why the Katekar character had to be killed, other than for shock factor. I got really confused in the middle episodes, and really didn’t follow a lot of what happened. Loved the Cuckoo, Zoya Misra and Katekar-Sartaj tracks. Nawaz – felt it was exactly what he’d done in GoW. Radhika Apte was a disappointment, she barely had anything to do. Saif was good, and I liked Vikram Motwane’s track a lot more than Anurag’s – which felt like it had been done before.
    Cinematography was excellent – apparently it’s been shot in 6K, and background score too.


    • I haven’t read the book, but I am guessing that Luke Kenny and Radhike and even Jitendra (Katekar) ended up being built up quite a bit just to make this season feel complete, like we caught the “big bad” and we lost a main character, and Jitendra was just there to fill time and give Saif someone to talk to until they didn’t need him any more. While the opening episodes, I am assume, are closer to the book structure. Because this is the start of the story, so the start of the season would be the true start. It was towards the end that they had to shuffle things around a bit to try to create a sense of completion even with nothing actually being finished.

      I liked Vikram Motwane’s track better as well, but he really didn’t have as much story to shoot. I found myself looking forward to Nawazuddin/Anurag’s sections just because stuff would actually happen and be resolved, instead of all the sitting and thinking and driving around and stuff that happened in Saif’s. I mean, we had a whole lingering section just on him deciding to take his Royal Enfield out of storage, while Nawazuddin was going around murdering people and falling in love and all kinds of things.

      I hope for the future seasons (if we have them), the balance is a lot better, Nawazuddin’s section slows down a bit and Saif has more to do. And better co-stars, Radhike was just sort of in and out of things, and Jitendra was killed but got killed part way. I want Saif to pair up with a real partner the whole time, and have more obvious character growth and just stuff to do. And Nawazuddin spends more time making friends and letting us get a sense of his life when things are calm instead of just always being in the middle of a gang war.

      On Mon, Jul 9, 2018 at 12:47 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



      • Yes, even Saif’s character doesn’t have a big arc or anything. I did feel that there as an overdose of sex and profanity added for shock value. Even where it was totally unnecessary. Looks like its the norm these days, or maybe the makers were just too excited about all the independence they got.


        • To be fair, it was Anurag’s section with the sex and profanity. Motwane had the option of putting in explicit rape with Geetanjali’s section and consciously chose against it, instead not showing so much as a kiss and leaving it to the audience imagination. Which makes me lean towards the “makers were excited” side of things, Anurag always wanted to push that stuff as far as he could in his films, and finally he can go all the way without worrying about censors or audience offense.


  4. Just a small correction. The TV show was Ramayan, not Mahabharat. The myth of Ram and Ayodhya etc happens in Ramayan.
    Shah Bano happened in ’85, Ramayan soon after in ’86. That was when the Sacred Games began in reality, I think. When taboos over religious partisanship were broken and publicly arguably one of our worst Prime Ministers. apparently people within Doordarshan had reservations about this content being made by a government owned broadcaster
    BR Chopra made Mahabharat in ’89 -90 I think?
    As for this show, I think the background music deserves mention. I thought it really elevated the material.


      • That explains why her storyline felt so pointless. She was introduced, she was there for a while, she died. And ultimately it didn’t mean anything, didn’t push the plot forward, was just a way to give Nawazuddin something to do for a few episodes until they were ready for his marriage and the death of his wife which would bring on the true gang war which would send him to jail which would let him meet Saif’s father and Pankaj Tripathi.


        • I did not get it either. It felt very forced. Like they wanted to gain points for alternative gender representation without actually earning it. Infact, all the gender politics dialogues felt very contrived to me. A bit like that “Sex is not a promise” line in MayaNadhi as you pointed out in your review. The politics exists and it’s looming over everyone but unlikely to be expressed in those words necessarily. Like, they wouldn’t say that at THAT moment in those words. This happens a lot in Anurag’s films I think. Some of the flashback parts felt like deleted scenes from GoW and Bombay Velvet. But the new stuff was enjoyable.


          • What really bothered me was that they went out of their way to imply she was intersex rather than merely transexual. We got to see her clearly full and female breasts, in an era when surgery or even medication to gain that would not have been possible, implying she was born with both male and female physical characteristics. Why? Why not simply make her transexual, which is much much much more common?

            And ultimately it was so old-fashioned, Nawazuddin may have all kinds of sex with prostitutes, and his girlfriend, but it is always non-missionary style and he never kisses. True Love is saved up for his marriage. And his wife is, naturally, in love with him and attracted to him and all of that, because she is his wife and that is how it works even when it is a last minute marriage to someone who barely knew him.

            On Tue, Jul 10, 2018 at 10:53 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



          • I wonder if he truly loved his wife though…or was it just the sex/virility-is-connected-to-violence trope? which, again, is such a Coppola/Scorcese/Anurag thing to do. It’s getting a bit outdated.
            Are you asking if it was necessary to get into exactly what specific part of the spectrum she was, instead of letting it be? I’d rather they didn’t address it and create urinal scenes for comedy. Or atleast brought in a consultant for the writing process for such characters to depict it with sensitivity.
            Just like how Eve Ensler was asked to consult for the recent Mad Max movie.
            The relationship itself felt forced..Nawaz didn’t sell it with his (*gasp!*) performance. I think the script was genuinely trying to sell it as a doomed love affair based on Deewar set a few years after the movie.


          • I would have preferred that they just didn’t show us the one moment of explicit nudity where we could see her breasts. Otherwise, everything was built to make her a transsexual, her heavy make-up and corseted lingerie and so on. Just leave it at that, don’t say anything or show anything explicit, let the audience fill in the blanks after the one urinal scene and the circular conversations. I think they also threw in something were she thought it was bad luck to see her penis? which is ridiculous, why create that drama instead of the natural drama of her feeling ashamed and unhappy in her own body, and Nawazuddin’s crew not respecting him. It was also really weird to me that there were no Hijra references at all, as though that whole community doesn’t exist with all the stigma and familiarity and so on that it would bring with it. I guess I wanted them to do either more with her character (tell me her backstory, tell me if she had a Hijra mother/mentor at some point, tell me how she lived this long and why she loves Nawazuddin), or less (just leave it at the clues along the way and let the audience guess).

            If it was supposed to be Deewar, they messed up royally. Parveen is Amitabh’s strength, not his weakness, she is killed protecting him, and then he dies after her. Right? I mean, it’s not really open to interpretation. Maybe the subtitles messed up, but there was a line in there somewhere that explicitly said Parveen had to die so Amitabh could live, which doesn’t make sense because they both die in scenes right next to each other. It’s one of my favorite things about Deewar, she isn’t just the “bad woman” who has to be sacrificed so he can lead a good life, she is the only woman, good and bad combined, and they die together.

            And then this version ended up being super regressive, going back to the “bad woman” dying so he can marry the “good woman”.

            On Tue, Jul 10, 2018 at 11:25 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



          • I’ve read that in the books Saif’s character is not that squeaky clean. He does accept the odd bribe every once in a while. Infact, it is established by the end that the only dfference between Saif and Nawaz is a lack of ambition.


          • Well, they completely changed that! Even the posters promise “The Righteous…The Ruthless”. With, presumably, Saif standing in as “the righteous”.

            On Tue, Jul 10, 2018 at 11:36 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



          • (This is a reply to the Deewar commentary)

            That’s a really insightful interpretation of Parveen’s character. Yes it does seem that way. Yash chopra’s gaze when it comes to “bad women” has mostly been progressive right?
            Also yes, she explicitly says Parveen has to die for Amitabh to live which doesn’t make sense coz that’s not what happened! It was really strange, her dialogues were clunky and just way too expository. Like it’s being read out.
            Exactly! The Hijra community wasn’t mentioned but was weirdly implied throughout. That she was his good luck charm. That is widely believed. People from that community are called or they show up to weddings to bless the couple. The 2 minutes featuring them in Hum Aapke Hain Kaun did a better job than this whole arc.
            As you mentioned, thats’s where the lack of sensitivity comes in, this obsession with her genitalia..we see that in news media as well. A bunch of straight guys just can’t see beyond the tangible here so that needed some intervention from someone who could represent the community to pitch in.


          • It goes to the whole tragedy of the end of Deewar, this wasn’t a young couple “fated” to die for their sins, this was a young couple with their whole life ahead of them, planning to be married and have a family. Parveen was as redeemable as Amitabh in the narrative. I never thought about it before, but Yash Chopra has always been understanding of the sins of his female characters, as understanding as he is of the male. Well, except Amrita Singh in Aaina, but she wasn’t the traditional “bad woman”, she was just a bad person all around, male or female it would have been the same.

            On Wed, Jul 11, 2018 at 8:36 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



    • Thank you! I’ll correct it.

      I am terrible about noticing background music, it’s my big blindspot. So thank you for filling in that gap!


  5. So I read this just to know if I should move work commitments out of the way just to watch this or if this can wait till whenever I have nothing better to do and it so seems like it’s going to be the latter.

    I know it must be nice as a non-desi indian film viewer to get that detailed sort of close to life setup. But two episodes in and dude I can already tell they’ve made a product to sell hard. The names — look at the names— Nawaz, Radhika, Pankaj and Saif in a getup he’s never done before– they’re really cult already. They’ve used names that you’re likely to watch anyway on a streaming platform. No wonder they didn’t go story first.

    Also, the reason why they keep Mumbai’s troubled history out of films is because it’s been used for propaganda and it can cause a law and order situation. Nobody wants that IRL.

    Also, man, I just can’t get over how unrealistic the plot is. Wtf man! I was so looking for to this series.


    • It really is much better made than the majority of streaming shows. But on the other hand, if I am comparing it with only the greatest ever mini-serieses, it’s not like Stranger Things good. Odd sort of middle ground, much higher quality in every way (performance, script, direction) than I would expect from a run of the mill miniseries, but if I am looking at the whole library of streaming options, it’s not in the top tier.


        • It’s also better made than a lot of Netflix shows. And BBC. I watch a lot of miniseries, and with this one you can really see the money onscreen. Still not the greatest ever, but better made in some ways than (for instance) the BBC Victoria series, or some of the Netflix shows I’ve turned on and turned off after one episode. And definitely better made than Breathe (although no Maddy :()

          On Tue, Jul 10, 2018 at 10:34 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



          • Yes! Of course I have! And that would be one that I would think of as at a similar level to Sacred Games. The first season was better, but then the later seasons just sort of dropped off, overall plot didn’t make much sense, characters had random storylines, way too many shots of cliffs inserted constantly, and so on. If Sacred Games kicks it up a notch in the next seasons (which I have hope it will, once it lets itself deal with actual plot instead of treading water to get to the twist ending), it could land at that level overall.

            Luther’s another one, great first season, okay second season, and then just kind of lost it in the 3rd season.

            On Tue, Jul 10, 2018 at 10:43 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



          • I definitely liked how they introduced Ellie and Hardy. And I LOVED her character curve! If they could only keep the investigation as appealing as those characters.

            Maybe Sacred games would have worked more against the backdrop of a small coastal town where it would make sense for a terror plot to be rubbished and left to be dealt by a mid ranking cop.

            Especially the history between the two men. It really is more small town than Mumbai. Mumbai has an extensive informer network. Maybe these filmmakers can’t think beyond Mumbai. Like comicbook superheroes always bringing down doom on NYC. Like, why?


          • I know the book was set in Bombay, and they bring in the movie and TV industry a bit and I suspect it will come up even more later, which really is specific to there. But, yeah, it felt like a bit of an empty city. Just making a wild guess, but I think it might be a function of how they adapted it, focusing on different minor characters each season and then writing them off, rather than having a cast of 100s in every season and making us really feel the size of the city.

            You know what would be the perfect miniseries? Sacred Games crossed with Broadchurch. The depth of story and variety of settings in Sacred Games, and the interesting character work of Broadchurch. Or maybe it’s just Sacred Games that needs that, Saif really needs a partner, someone to talk to and some kind of character chemistry to keep us tuning in.

            Speaking of, if you want something like Broadchurch, you should check out The Killing. But start in season 3, the first two seasons are terrible and then it got canceled and uncanceled and changed things up and started a new story and focused more and more on the amazing chemistry between the two detective leads.

            On Tue, Jul 10, 2018 at 10:54 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



          • It’s on my list. And now I’m wondering who could they bring in with Saif that won’t overshadow him and still work in the story! Would it be too much to ask to have Amrita Singh do that?! Ruthless SI who’s been hardened by her experiences and very cynical but she’s very good with details? Like he gets stuck with this woman who’s been a constable/beat cop all her life and got promoted to inspector very late in life and she’s more famous for beating confessions out of small time crooks and he gets stuck with her as punishment. Maybe she’s a mole for the corrupt cops and she gets persuaded to help him watching him throw himself into solving this thing? Her backstory could be something like her husband used to be this bright young commissioned officer and she was this sweet young small town girl who got married to him young and had kids and then was was killed chasing down small time chain snatchers or something and she got the constable job as compassion posting. And her husband’s death broke her heart and turned her into this heartless cop. But she’s really good at recruiting informants and finding contacts she can get info out of. Maybe she’s doing this mole job so she can get a posting close to her newly married only daughter’s house.

            I’d really have to watch this series to build a case for Amrita but man I can almost see her in it.


          • I would love for her to come in, or really any woman in that kind of a role. It felt like that was what Radhike was going to be, someone who had to prove herself the hard way and came out of it tougher than Saif, he was just handed his position and struggles to live up to it. But then they weakened her character and wrote her off.

            Barring that, I want Saif to work more closely with the existing cop characters, both Neeraj Padi and Aamir Bashir have the acting chops to do a lot more than what they were given, and they are positioned to possibly be more willing to work with Saif in series 2. But just having Saif hanging out by himself and sometimes calling his mother is boring boring boring. Give him someone to talk to!

            They could also bring in Akshaye who would overshadow everyone onscreen and turn it into just The Akshaye Show, but I don’t care it would be worth it. Although, if I were Akshaye, I would never work with Netflix after the white wash they did on Osho.

            On Thu, Jul 12, 2018 at 11:33 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



          • I was also thinking Tabu. But she’s too tall and too elegant to be the obnoxious bad cop. And elegant lady cop has been done to death. Ooh how about Vidya? She could be the giggly non serious promoted SI who’s super proud of her cooking skills and she’s always nice to everyone and Saif gets frustrated with her being so girly and there’s this entire big scene where he tells her to be more professional and she’s like oh you mean be more like a man?!

            But her chirpiness gets results. Her husband is this jovial fat fellow who runs a dairy and loves his buffaloes. They have fat kids who are dumb and they draw on court summons she mindlessly took home and all of this just gets on Saif’s nerves.


          • Maybe. I would say that we can’t just invent a character to be Saif’s partner, but apparently they invented some characters not in the book already, so why not?

            On Thu, Jul 12, 2018 at 11:54 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  6. Vikram Chandra famously spent 7 years researching for his book, and it shows.(Re: “So I think we can more or less trust Vikram’s account of these things.”)

    I give him major props for being a master storyteller as well as a thorough researcher.


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