India has a lot to say, but words have always been censored, slit by the throat and chopped off when it comes to the big screen. The lack of willingness to view content that will hurt or even touch our emotions or beliefs has led us to a tangled state of nil productivity. We have 71 years of untamed, wild history with every occurrence having its own detailed stories and meta stories. And that’s exactly what Sacred Games is trying to portray, and has perfectly depicted. The series, which exposes a cat and mouse game between good and evil in all its meaning, breaks the rigid structure of politics, religion, and socio-economic conditions through the unparalleled narration of Siddique. The series in its own possible ways does justice to the idea of an uncared for and unaddressed post-colonial Indian history. It’s an unusual happening when an Indian series spikes up the interest of a political party making them lodge a police complaint against the entire team for allegedly ‘stating the truth’ about the then prime minister Rajeev Gandhi.
The series, Netflix’s pioneering venture to meddle with an unexplored side of India, was born out of Vikram Chandra’s 928 page 2006 best seller under the same name. When finally the story was adapted into a series, it was brought into life by the cast, crew and directors. Unlike what people might believe, the nude scenes or the intense love making are not the only major attractions of the series. The subtle humor incorporated in every line, the visuals that capture the authenticity of India are what makes sacred games a not so sacred take on Indian culture and contemporary history. The character of Ganesh Gaitonde, played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui is a beacon of the recent past of the country. His take on religion and politics is definitely meant to give the viewers a subtle hint of what we have forgotten and what we choose to ignore.
In a country where ‘godmen’ rain from the sky and walk to prison, there is nothing unusual in portraying a main character, a crime lord who believes that he is God and even above God. There is nothing strange when common men approach a crime lord for help and for revenge when there are communal clashes going on. It’s an everyday occurrence when politicians and policemen seek orders from a man who has a history of 148 confirmed kills. When the dots are joined, every single man sitting at the throne of governance, order and entertainment industry are crowned with the blessings of Ganesh Gaithonde, a criminal god man, brought to life by Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Though nudes and hardcore sex have been unboxed for the first time in front of a sentimentally delicate audience, what matters more is the unexaggerated Indian history showed through the serial. Because of audios and subtitles in English and other major languages, it’s not just an Indian audience who gets acquainted to the show; it would be a clear amazement for foreign viewers as well to get a glimpse of Indian political history.
From the rise of Mumbai underworld, talking about a destructive emergency declared by a decomposing democracy, through the Shah Bano case and Bofors scandal, the show lays out elusive hints about the fall of Congress in India. Along with it, when the character of Gaitonde shows how religion and politics can be mixed together to yield the desired result, it is a blatant exposition of the present day political ideology in India. Nothing is explicitly shown or even spoken about, except for the nudes, but by pitching in a word here and there the viewers either get intrigued about independent India or at least get to know about it.
Of late, Sacred Games has been compared with Narcos, one of the best series aired by Netflix. Further, it has gained an imdb rating of 9.2 and an 89% by rotten tomatoes. It can be fairly assumed that it will gather international interests. The series becomes a window to the Indian socio-political conditions for an outside world. The first Netflix original in India is a sacred start by itself, as it opens doors to a lot other coming web series and movies that will be a mirror for the foreign world to look at India, just as we look at the English ways through Hollywood.
Picture Credits : feminisminindia.com