Sacred Games Review

  • 4/5
This one is Sacred! behold the lack of censorship!

I normally don’t review TV shows, but this one is an exception. Directed by Anurag Kashyap and his regular partner in crime Vikramaditya Motwane , Sacred Games is based on a novel by Vikram Chandra. This review is for the Hindi Version. I haven’t yet seen or plan to see the English dubbed audio. Also I haven’t read the novel yet, so I am review the series based on its own merit.

A Note about other reviews/Opinions. It seems most if not all the reviews are just first impressions and the people reviewing and writing about it haven’t actually seen all the episodes instead basing it on the first two episodes. Which is a pathetic way to review a show. Which can only be talked about after seeing all the episodes.

So here is my review based on ALL the 8 episodes of season 1.

Sacred Games is a thriller mixed in with a rise to power story of an ex-Mumbai based gangster. Peppered in are elements of real history of our country. This show is made and designed very much to be an Indian Narcos. Which is great. It’s about time India’s seedy criminal underbelly got the non-Bollywood treatment. So we have lots of swearing of the most filthy kind, nudity of men and women and lots and lots of blood and violence. It’s sort of refreshing to see the extreme portrayal of gang violence which can’t be shown in Bollywood films due to the censor board.

The Acting :

Saif is really good as the Sartaj Singh a sort of down on his luck rookie type Cop. He plays his role with conviction and realism. There is none of the fake Bollywood sheen to his acting; it’s a very raw portrayal of a cop. Probably due to the content, I would say this is saif’s career best performance. It’s nice to see how a main stream star has taken a Web Series role which has none of the usual things that stars do, such as singing, dancing or romancing.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Ganesh Gaitonde is an ex-gangster of the Arun Gawli kind. He has played this sort of role before for Anurag’s own Gangs of Wasseypur. Therefore, this isn’t such a departure for him, but he too plays his role with a strength and conviction which lends credibility to his larger than life gangster persona on screen.

Radhika Apte looks convincing as a RAW agent, but she is also the weakest part of the lead casting. Her acting is fine, but somehow her body language is far less convincing. Maybe real life RAW agents are like this, but as far as other actors are concerned in the show who look like they are REAL people, she stands out as the one with the least convincing portrayal.

Rest of the cast is pretty good and as I mentioned before, everyone manages to be convincing in their acting and you forget these are actors and see the performances as if they are real people. Which is the best thing for a project like this.

The Story :

Since I haven’t read the novel, I don’t know where the story is going. But so far it’s all about cops, ministers, gangsters, religion and a murder mystery. On paper, that’s VERY standard fare. It’s the typical collection you expect from any political thriller.

But what REALLY shines about the story is the parts about how the gangster Ganesh came to be. His origin story as it were. These sections are shown in flashbacks and Nawazuddin Siddiqui is in his element during these scenes. In addition, this part of the story, to me is much more interesting than the thriller that is unfolding during the present time.

Saif’s cop thriller story isn’t bad, but it is a by the numbers thriller. Offering nothing-new story wise. Only great performances make these sections more bearable.

The Direction :

As mentioned before this series is divided in two sections. Saif’s cop story is directed by Vikramaditya and the Gangster story of Nawazuddin Siddiqui is directed by Anurag.

Both the sections have some tonal variation which works well for the series overall as one is a Story narrated by the gangster and the other is of events unfolding in the present day. The tonal shift is not jarring but rather works well somehow.

By far anurag’s directed sections are far better than the sections of saif. It’s more appealing, bloody and in your face. It’s like he got three or four times the budget of his previous films and he went to town with the blood and violence. Rather satisfying to see. Direction and tonally, this is the closest he has come to Martin Scorsese’s style.

Overall :

This is a series produced by Netflix and it is aimed at a worldwide audience. So even though there is some smatterings of a song and dance, some cheesy dialogs, most of it is designed to compete with the rest of the world’s best.

The good news is. This show doesn’t disappoint. It is not artificial. People speak in all sorts of different languages and they haven’t tried to make them speak fake English. Which is a big departure from how previous foreign funded Indian projects have turned out to be.

The action and violence is raw and gritty. It shows how the city of Mumbai / Bombay in the 80s and 90s really looked like without demeaning the city. The dialogs are very realistic.

It remains to be seen where the story leads as this is only the first season. So more on that when season 2 arrives.

Rating :

8/10. If you like, gangster movies and thrillers this series is right up your alley. Fans of the director’s previous works will NOT be disappointed.

This is the content Anurag Kashyap The director of Paanch, Black Friday, Dev D and Gangs of Wasseypur deserves and should be making instead of bull crap like Lust Stories and Bombay Velvet.

Conclusion :

Minor Spoilers. VERY Minor.

The show ends on a cliff-hanger. So be warned. If you want to see something with a satisfying conclusion, odds are… you will have to wait for the better part of this year or the next for the next season. Most of the questions raised in this season are not answered and only a slight hint is given to the rest of the story. I don’t know how many more seasons are planned. But this one does it job. Which is leave you with sort of an anticipation for the next season, not quite satisfied but not left hanging so midway that it will anger you. A perfect job by the makers and Netflix to make sure audiences tune in for the next season.

Sumit Gupta
I also expect more with the ending, I didn't get what happened. ID is of Trivedi and Trivedi is expected to stay alive. They also didn't show the face.