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Sacred Games (Netflix Series/Season One) - An updated, uncontrolled version of GOW with an added Police angle, that is superfine in its technicalities but actually deserves to be seen for its supporting cast. (Review By Bobby Sing)

10 Jul, 2018 | Movie Reviews / 2018 Releases / ALL ABOUT INSPIRED MOVIES / Inspired Movies (Alphabetical) / S

Beginning with the praises showered on the social networks first, it all depends upon what you are actually looking for in your chosen content among the wide choice available at the new online streaming portals. In case you are only interested in the technical excellence of the film/series, its direction, short-taking, lighting, the created ambience and the performances ignoring the actual plot or storyline, then SACRED GAMES is sure to make an impact, particularly when you are already half influenced and in awe of the names involved in its making.
However if you are more interested or looking for something novel and fresh in terms of content, plot, storytelling as well as execution, different than what we have already seen umpteen times before in various Hindi and Indian regional films, then SACRED GAMES might appear to be just good, as it keeps struggling to move out of its mostly ‘seen before’ sequences, forced foul language and more than required ‘nudity; taking the freedom of uncensored content for granted.
So as a person belonging to the second category mentioned above, for me SACRED GAMES was certainly a good one time watch with some praiseworthy, well-conceived moments and outstanding performances, but nothing jaw-dropping or extra-ordinary that could bring me on to the edge of my seat with amazement or any kind of disbelief. It has its own worth appreciating segments along many restless ones where the progression slows down becoming predictable as well as clichéd reminding you of several Hindi films beginning from SATYA, AB TAK CHAPPAN to ONCE UPON A TIME IN MUMBAI, GANGS OF WASSEYPUR and more.
(*Spoilers Ahead)
Stating the downers, the entire format or narrative style of SACRED GAMES is quite similar to that of GANGS OF WASSEYPUR where a voice over continues throughout, retelling the story of a gangster right from the beginning, the journey of an underdog from a nobody to ‘Mumbai Ka King Kaun’…..Bhiku Maatrey.

The first four episodes are entirely based on all repetitive, overused elements. For instance, a new entrant taking over the rival gang’s reign as well as the gang leader’s girl, the deep nexus between the police-dons-politicians playing tricks with each other, their involvement in the film industry interfering in who’s doing whose film, the actresses having a dark hidden history, the same old pattern of going to and fro in narration coming up with regular flashbacks, same old story of a mole in the gang informing the other don in Dubai, a familiar style of showcasing gangwars and shootouts (in slow motion) with a song playing in the backdrop (or along pulsating background score) and the same old story of the loved ones (the girl-friends and the wives) accidently getting shot post an unexpected shootout leading to further revenge angle in the script.
What’s served new with all the above repetitive ingredients is a tough character of a Sikh Police Officer who is unknowingly related with the initial days of the gangster and a parallel story unfolding involving a plan to destroy the entire city post 25 days. In fact here the fixed time-frame continuing in the 8 episodes strongly reminded me of the cult series 24 (also remade in Hindi in India) and then the character of a lonely-honest inspector, whose wife is not with him anymore, was recently also there in Amazon Prime's BREATHE. 
But above all, what actually gets on your nerves after a while (specifically from the 4th episode onwards), is a completely forced lingo given to all impressive performers where they are made to abuse unnecessarily in every second line just for the sake of it. Besides the pointless insertion of sex-scenes and first of its kind of nudity (in an Indian Web-series) further makes you re-think about the ‘Script Ki Demand’ kind of terms, when all such stuff is clearly added to keep the controversy alive like the (insane) conversation between Bunty and his sister, her unconvincingly confusing affair with the gang member and the bedroom scenes of Nawaz and his wife. 
Where the shocking as well as entertaining ‘Kukoo’ works perfectly well bringing in the novelty factor, her reasoning of having so much influence in the underworld remains undisclosed and unconvincing raising the obvious question that, “Was the character and every such insertion related to sex and abusives, just added to bring in the shock value and nothing else?”.
As per the story progression, the actual intriguing content begins from the 4th and 5th episodes. But here too the 25 days deadline goes out of the focus for a long time before returning back towards the end, leaving the disclosure for the next season of the series to be aired soon. 
Interestingly the film is based on Vikram Chandra’s novel with the same title, that itself has a lot of influence of RGV and his team’s initial works beginning from SATYA. The same feel and spirit of the genre reached its peak in Anurag Kashyap’s GANGS OF WASSEYPUR and may be that is the reason, Anurag Kashyap and Vikram Motavane picked up this project as they had already shot everything before in details and just needed to present it in a more upgraded version along the ‘must have’ shock value that was earlier not possible due to the Censor restrictions. 
In other words, they simply chose to do all familar things without going for anything fresh or novel in terms of plot or content, even when they had all the liberty in the world forgetting about the censor board. 
Anyway, moving on to the brighter features of the series and why it needs to be seen as a more than fine cinematic experience?
SACRED GAMES scores the maximum in its technical department building a great ambience throughout with a worth noticing cinematography, well composed background score and a top-notch art-direction.
But it actually doesn’t click just due to its lead stars. It neither clicks due to Nawazuddin Siddiqui (as he superbly keeps doing what he is typically known for in a pure robotic mode), nor it works due to Saif Ali Khan sincerely playing an honest Sikh police officer performing his given task (without any forced histrionics or fake heroism). It doesn’t click due to Radhika Aptey as she is just okay in her (again unconvincing) role of a Raw officer roaming around the city like an amateurish journalist. And it honestly never works due to its typically clichéd theme involving the gangsters and the police along the corrupt politicians. 
SACRED GAMES thankfully clicks due to its outstanding supporting cast and their lovable individual acts (written with care giving them due importance) that rise much above the clichéd theme saving the series in its entirety.
SACRED GAMES truly works because of Kukoo (Kubbra Sait), Constable Katekar (Jitendra Joshi), Bunty (Jatin Sarna), DCP Parulkar (Niraj Kabi), Subhadra (Rajshri Dehpande), Zoya Mirza (Elnaz Norouzi), Bipin Bhosle (Girish Kulkarni), Nayanika (Geetanjali Thapa) and the foreigner murderer (Luke Kenny) in that specific order. It further raises hopes due to an exciting Pankaj Tripathi playing Guru Ji, who is sure to be in focus in it next season.
Besides it certainly impresses with its intelligent mention of every major political and social event/movement/mishappening in the country since the mid-70s, relating it with the storyline using the original news footage and the indicative, innovative titles of its 8 episodes. On the other hand, it might look like biased in its strong mentions to many, focusing on religion and the ‘Divide and Rule’ policy adapted by every political party post the independence.
Having said that, it extensively talks about the Hindu-Muslim issue in its various key sequences in reference to recent Indian history, but very smartly skips even mentioning the evil massacre of Sikhs in 1984 post the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. 
To give the right information to the youngsters reading this detailed write-up. If any film, book, documentary or person tries to give you a rough reference of India’s history of the last four decades without mentioning the unrestricted Sikhs massacre in the country that happened immediately after the assassination of Indira Gandhi, then take it as a document intentionally hiding the ugly, unbelievable truth for its own undisclosed reasons.
Anyway, the commendable work of the director-duo would have surely looked much more convincing and effective, had they not tried to sensationalize it adding excessive expletives and nudity just to bring in the ‘shock-value’. In fact that is the reason it actually falls short of being a complete game-changer in the business, as it was projected to be.
In all, the first season of SACRED GAMES certainly has some great, appreciable moments, but mine wasn’t any coming from the lead characters. Mine was the one beautifully defining the difference between 'Asli Swaad' and 'Sapne Ka Swaad' of a dish………. taking you closer to life and its brutal reality.
Besides, it also made me realize how at times the versatility of an immensely gifted actor like Nawazuddin Siddiqui gets killed by his close writers-directors only, who repeatedly keep casting him in all similar looking roles of typically weird characters. Ironically it’s like “Yeh Apne Saath Hai Toh Saare Iss Tarah Ke Role Bas Issi Se Kara Lo”
Rating : 3 + 0.5 / 5 (with the additional 0.5 for its outstanding supporting performances)

Note : The Netflix rating shows it to be 16+ film, whereas this is a striclty For Adults Film to inform the viewers)

Tags : Sacred Games (Netflix Series Season-1) Review by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, Netflix first original Indian Series in Hindi, New Web Series Reviews by Bobby Sing
10 Jul 2018 / Comment ( 0 )
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