Genre: Mumbai Noir
This is my first review as a professional critic and I’ve passed Sacred Games an opinion dividing 4 out of 5. Apun aate hi apni’ch g***d mein zinda chooha le liya.
Apologies, I’m slightly hungover on the show. Remember how it all began with Sirf Trivedi Bach Jayega? The ‘how?’ could have contended for a slot in the national emergency list. That’s how ostracised the world of Sacred Games is. An empire with two kings drowning in melancholy. Keep reading. I will tell you everything but spoil nothing.
This time around, the crusaders of season one have taken a gut punch. Gaitonde is a shell of his former self, lost in the middle of nowhere. The claustrophobic guilt of Katekar’s death and Anjali’s murder has turned Sartaj into a fiend riling for vengeance, with a face undecipherable. The demons have grabbed Gaitonde and Sartaj by their testicular organs. ( Can’t say that word. Netflix is uncensored. Not this job).
Sacred Games has two layers. A narrative and an anagram. Narratives are designed to engage, involve, entertain and elicit emotions. Sacred Games slugs in that department a bit. Let’s get this out of the way.
But the anagram needs a deep understanding of the socio-cultural fabric of the country and awareness of how international politics and nexuses function. Sacred Games lacks in meat taste. But, fully compensates with meat thickness.
So, the country is in danger. Mumbai is the victimized catalyst. Gaitonde knew something. But he’s no more. Gaitonde felt Sirf Trivedi Bach Jayega but nobody knows how. Sartaj has a broken marriage, a guilt-inducing job and bleak faith left in him. He’s like a man who slips hard on a street during monsoons. A man who is surrounded by a downpour, population, metal, speed, and danger. He’s the man without a raincoat, standing against a speeding truck. His brain can’t process things in split seconds now.
Gaitonde was Bhagwaan in season one. Was is the operative word here. But, even the sacred come across odds. Even Gods have problems. Even Gods have fear. Fear of not being remembered and revered.
Suppose, I follow a certain faith that has been revered for miracles. Miracles discussed by mass. And that miraculous faith stops pulling out miracles. I’ll forget that faith, gradually. That’s how we are designed. We only remember what looks significant. That’s how this well-equipped world is wired. A world that had forgotten Gaitonde. The overlord who disappeared. A prospective ruler who got lost in transit. A God who vanished in thin air. Miracles were gone. Bhagwan was gone.
The story began when Sartaj got a call from Gaitonde. Before shooting himself, Gaitonde had a story to tell Sartaj. But, the latter had no time to listen to something he considered nonsense and the story remained unfinished. Season 2 is that unfinished story.
Whoever said that everybody has the same God might be someone who had premonitions of Sacred Games.
Gaitonde’s third father Guruji wants to reform the world. He saved Gaitonde’s life. Sartaj still wonders how Gaitonde knew his father so well. Gaitonde has made new enemies. Sartaj doesn’t know who’s the enemy around him. Both have questions. Answers have become their addiction. Answers can take them to any lengths. Answers have become their drug. Two men separated by generations and work nature, somehow, share a recurrent synergy.
This game is bigger. Dharam ka dhandha has been toppled by scientific evaluation. Religion has been draped with science. Gaitonde is traveling across horizons to find the inner God. Sartaj is trying to decode the algorithm that runs God. Gaitonde and Sartaj share a psychological wormhole that binds the timelines of their uncanny occurrences.
The show has thick meat. Every major national hazard has been incorporated in the telling of Sacred Games. It breaks out of Gopalmath and places us in an India that could’ve been. An India that was supposed to be. It shows India from the eyes of time. Gaitonde wants to be with Guruji. Guruji has all the answers. Answers are what Gaitonde has been looking for.
Sacred Games Season 2 is set in a disparaged city. Gaitonde’s Bombay is burning in the 93-94 riots. Back in the day, Dawood Ibrahim vanished without leaving a trail back to India till date. Films funded by underworld were lessening the craft. And, Venkatesh Prasad was turning infamous for his terribly slow pace deliveries. Gaitonde lamented at what his country and Bombay especially have spiraled down to. Sartaj lives in a Mumbai turned cautious after the terror attacks, a city which can no longer use Mayanagri as a moniker. Generations apart, both live in a world where tension is always lurking around in the rafters. Both feel responsible for the state of affairs around.
Good and bad are overused words. Fair is the way to go. That’s what Gaitonde and Sartaj realize in their respective worlds. Gaitonde feels Dilbag Singh isn’t the only doorway between them. And, Sartaj is too naïve to figure out such things immediately.
Trivedi once said Guruji has all the answers. Trailers have shown you how Gaitonde met Guruji. The trailer wasn’t enough. The season isn’t enough. The world is not enough for Guruji.
Guruji is unreadable. He is fair. That’s what he believes. He is followed by a legion. A legion that transcends timelines, gangs, families, borders and human reasoning. Gaitonde terms his ways Gochi. He’s Gaitonde, remember? He can extract morbid humor out of anything.
Akashic Books, a Brooklyn based publishing company released a book named Mumbai Noir. A book with riveting stories of the Mumbai underworld. It’s a spine chilling read. Deserves a proper cinematic adaptation. Sacred Games is that juicy in the fictional scheme of things. Vikram Chandra has pushed the limits of reimagining Mumbai and its scars. Writers Varun Grover, Smita Singh, Vasant Nath, Dhruv Narang, Pooja Varma, and Nihit Bhave have written a format that would require an immaculate amount of patience and meticulous sense of detailing to pull it off. These people have taken pop-culture and tainted it with blood. Uncomfortable, complex yet compelling watch.
A struggling actor, a partner with erectile dysfunction, a henchman who is ashamed of the radicals of his community, a stern, law-abiding department, a mythical sage, the science of religion and massive retrospection encapsulate the lives of Gaitonde and Sartaj. And there’s Guruji watching. He is Gaitonde’s third father, chronologically. He saved Gaitonde’s life. There is a reason. Sartaj’s father is somebody Gaitonde considered shaitan ki duniya mein insaan ka aadmi. There is a reason. Sartaj found a body stored in Gaitonde’s basement. There is a reason. Everything has a reason. Nothing happens without a reason.
When you read books on propaganda and threads about global conspiracy theories, your mind starts questioning the obvious. Nations improve technology and fight over religion. People miss old days but spend hours to spew hatred online. Climate and capitalism have cut the world’s opinion into half. Privacy seems a myth when you see the advertisement for a topic you discussed with your friend moments ago. Is it all smokes and mirrors? Are we being set up? Did Simpsons actually predict the future occurrence of major planet altering events? Are our minds being maneuvered to fit the given definition of civilization since time immemorial? Sacred Games is a similar snowball. Gaitonde and Sartaj have the same darn questions. That’s what makes it a nihilistic anecdote on life and beliefs. Many haven’t appreciated this season. No wonder why. If your narrative can’t entertain and keep one hooked, nobody will have enough gas left to decode the anagram.
Alike Sacred Games, the world is like a gearbox in any car. Gears have to shift to keep the vehicle running, seamlessly. People are those gears. They have to make a place for the next in line.
Okay, I told you everything but spoiled nothing. Sacred Games is devoid of heroism and that is the essence. Heroes are a farce. There the world doesn’t need any. Sacred Games is about broken, vulnerable, shallow and depressed people. People who are obliviously heading towards the requiem for a dream.
Sacred Games ko samajhna itna aasaan nahi, Saheb. Hota toh apun khud nahi kar leta?
Sirf Trivedi Bach Jayega.” – Ganesh Gaitonde