Sacred Games (Netflix TV Series, Season 1 - 2018)

US Netflix TV series streaming video

Based on the famous 2006 novel by Vikram Chandra

 

Text below written 2019-02-11


YES, this was the reason for me finally getting a Netflix subscription, one of my favourite crime novels and with my favourite male actor
Nawazuddin Siddiqui in one of the 2 major roles, as the Master criminal Ganesh Gaitonde, and with Anurag Kashyap as director.

If you have Netflix, and even though you may not ever have watched a Bollywood film, please watch this TV series. Kudos to Netflix for
producing an Indian crime TV series and for giving exciting indie directors as Kashyap and Motwane the honors of directing it. Thanks!
I have a hunch there must be some fans of the Bollywood New Wave hidden among the Netflix directorials.
Just think of all the awful Bollywood directors they could've chosen to mess this dark masterpiece of a novel up .... it makes you shudder.

Interestingly, Anurag Kashyap directs the Ganesh Gaitonde/Nawaz scenes and Vikramaditya Motwane the Sartaj Singh/Saif Ali Khan scenes,
and you clearly can notice the differences in directing style. This works very well as the novel shifts between the flashbacks and narration
of Gaitonde and the "today" scenes with Singh's and Anjali's investigation of Gaitonde's death and the possible meaning of his warning.

Nawaz (in a scene from another epic crime story - The Gangs of Wasseypur, 2012)

This Netflix TV series can be seen in something like 190 countries around the world and hopefully the interest for Bollywood film and for
it's great actors will rise also in the last bastions that Bollywood haven't yet conquered (as e.g. Sweden where i live).
There will be two seasons with 8 episodes each, and when this is written in february 2019 i'm eagerly awaiting the second season.

The great 2006 novel was massive in all aspects. Thick as a brick, with something of a 900 pages and a truly fascinating read dealing with
subjects as organized crime, corrupted politicians and police, terrorism and espionage. Yeah, i know, just about the stuff that almost every
Bollywood crime movie deals with somehow, but .... this time it's done in a more interesting way than usual with this great novel as a source.
Also, just like in the book, there are sex, and with nudity .... in a Bollywood film ? NO, the usual strict censorship rules doesn't apply here
as US Netflix has produced this as a web series. A good thing as the novel had a very gritty tone with lots of sex.

Vikram Chandra's epic novel is even beyond massive, it's a whole universe in itself and one of the most impressive crime novels i've ever read

The Great Saif Ali Khan from the indie classic Omkara

Great Acting

One thing that shines in this TV series, this crime mystery and gangster movie, besides the skilled direction is the acting. Wow, India really
has got some fine actors to show the world, the very best. Acclaimed King Actor, and my favourite actor in the whole world, Nawazuddin
Siddiqui
gives a mesmerizing performance (as usual) as the almost mythical super criminal Ganesh Gaitonde who suddenly turns up again in
Mumbai and really stir things up with the Police, Gangsters and the Indian Secret Service.
Gaitonde is a very, VERY evil man and probably the killer of hundreds of people, but still, Nawaz does that thing he does, and makes us see
him as a human worthy of our pity. These small moments of his, and of Anurag Kashyap's, magic, as e.g. when Gaitonde talks to his wife
Subhadra in the car. About nothing much really but with a beautiful serenity to it. Even during a shoot-out, moments of stillness.

Saif Ali Khan is also very good as the Sikh Police officer Sartaj Singh, a sad slightly overweight man considered to be a bit dimwitted and a not
very successful cop, if an honest one, by his corrupted superiors. One day he's suddenly contacted by the legendary, almost mythical, gangster
Ganesh Gaitonde who has some, for Sartaj yet unknown, ties with him. Gaitonde enigmatically says "that everyone will die, except Trivedi" -
and the amazing first episode ends with Gaitonde waiting in his bunker for Sartaj to arrive and then commits suicide.

Sacred Games - Slightly apocalyptic, mysterious and fascinating to watch and very recommended. I've watched it two times now on Netflix,
and it was even better the second time, when i did notice the different directing styles and the social commentary, the fantastic acting, not the
least from Neeraj Kabi as Police Commissioner Parulkar, he's fantastic and you can't take your eyes from him, wow!
Jitendra Joshi as Singh's best friend, constable Katekar, another even more below average cop than Singh, is also amazing, even gripping.
As Gaitondes underling Bunty Jatin Sarna really shines also, very good, and Kubbra Sait as GG's transgender girlfriend is sensational, and
the question many wonders about after the full frontal dick scene, is she a transgender for real ?
Radhika Apte is OK too, even though she wears the same disgruntled expression all through the 7 first episodes she's in. She can do better.

Anurag Kashyap's 2012 gangster masterpiece Gangs of Wasseypur

The first episode is amazing. Mysterious and Apocalyptic and one of the greatest openings of any TV series, EVER, and with lots of
Anurag Kashyap directed scenes i suppose, with that style of his, the magic. Naturally, with this being a TV series of 8 episodes it just couldn't
go on like this, with fireworks blazing. So, however great this TV series turned out to be it saddens me a bit to think of what Kashyap could've
done with this novel if condensed into a normal movie playing time or into another GOW epic. How sensationally good it could've been.

Sacred Games is 1. a slightly philosophical crime mystery and 2. an Indian gangster movie, and regarding the latter we have seen it for decades,
the gangster gangs fighting over their turfs in Bombay - Mumbai, essentially most of them moulden out of Brian De Palma's Scarface, probably
the most influental gangster movie ever made (yeah, yeah, The Godfather bla bla, the 1930's US one's etc.).
I've seen many fine Bollywood gangster movies as i.a. Vaastav, Satya, Company, Maqbool and Gangs of Wasseypur and maybe GOW could be
the ultimate gangster saga, The Indian Goodfather and/or Scarface. Yet, that is, hopefully Kashyap could better it in the future, he's still young.

Anurag Kashyap

And, the stylized and impressive shoot-out scenes in Sacred Games done the unique Kashyap way resembles the one's in GOW.
Now, we are all waiting for the second season of Sacred Games with, i hope, the final 8 episodes of the series, and i've read that Anurag Kashyap
will continue directing the Nawazuddin scenes and that Neeraj Ghaywan (acclaimed director of indie artmovie favourite Masaan) will replace
Vikramaditya Motwane in directing the Saif Ali Khan scenes.
I can understand that Anurag wants Nawaz for himself, having access to this unique high performance instrument in his directorial tool-shed.

OK, maybe i have a small complaint regarding the script writing, in the novel our "hero" Sartaj Singh was a bit more shady, more of a Film Noir
protagonist than the Saif Ali Khan one, who's almost all good. Only in the 6th episode we get to see that police buddies Singh and Katekar are
as bad as every Indian cop, as seen in countless of Bollywood movies, Corrupted and with a taste for some good old torture. When a cop is
killed by a young street thug Sartaj Singh doesn't bat an eyelid when he's told that the police has murdered 2 of the other kids in vengeance.

In the second episode we get to see Gaitondes history in flashbacks and how the investigation is taken from Sartaj. Then Nawaz continues
narrating his story in flashbacks alternating with scenes of Singh and Anjali sleuthing to reveal what Gaitonde's warning was about.

This TV series have been critically acclaimed and everyone seem to like it. Very recommended ! I've watched it 2 times now

 

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