I became a lot more interested in the series when I saw Rahul Gandhi’s tweet regarding the controversy this series created for his father and our former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. It was in the news when one Congres member from West Bengal filed a petition in the court against the series for disrespecting the then Prime Minister because the protagonist used cuss words to criticize the decision on Shah Bano Case and Bofors scam.
Not only this many articles and reviews came in the national newspapers like The Hindu about this TV series saying that this series reflects ‘the coming of age for Indian Television’. Then I decided that I will certainly watch this series. On one weekend, when I started watching this series, I didn’t even realize when I finished four episodes and the impact(as I get so much involved into whatever I watch) was so intense that I couldn’t sleep for few hours. I was constantly thinking about it and what will happen in the next episodes. Next day came, I again got glued to my cell phone and finished all the next four episodes as if the world is going to end before I need to know what will happen in the next episodes.
This whole series also reminded me of the Gangs of Wasseypur 1 and 2 which was also directed by Anurag Kashyap. These movies are also very intense and show you the real picture of our society. It makes you see things from a very objective perspective as we all know that human beings are flawed and no one can be perfect. On similar lines, “Sacred Games” is mind blowing, intense, gripping and shows the reality and pinches you at every scene to think about the issues present in our society and polity and how these issues shape our thinking, decisions and are the basis of our politics. It is an adaptation of a book of the same name by Vikram Chandra.
There are two main characters- Sartaj Singh(Played by Saif Ali Khan) and Ganesh Gaitonde(Nawazzudin Sidique). Sartaj Singh is an honest police officer who chases the underworld don Ganesh Gaitonde. Sartaj Singh’s part was directed by Vikramaditya Motwane. Their stories are going on parallel in the series. I am not here to tell anyone the story of the series. The most interesting thing about this series was to link the scenes with the then political situation of India. This interconnection with politics, I also noticed, was present in Gangs of Wasseypur. The description of major political events provide you the linkage and compels you to relate political events with the social happenings and it also compels you to think that how much a decision taken by the political leaders can impact the society in various unpredictable ways. That is why I say that the “SACRED GAMES” is all about Indian politics” You take out the politics from the series, it has nothing to narrate.
Religion is one of the important themes of this series. The name of the series- “sacred” means related to God. The first episode starts with dialogue by Nawazuddin-“Do you believe in God?, “God does not give….F………” In fact, in every prominent scene is somehow linked to religion and the life of the protagonist Gaitonde also moves around religion. He questions everything related to religion and provokes you at every moment. It teaches you how “religion” is used as a manipulative tool to control people and ultimately mobilize and polarize people to exercise their franchise in election. How ‘caste’ and ‘concept of pollution and purity’ are two important tools which are so inherent in our mindsets and in our daily lives that we don’t even realize that we are biased towards it. Here I remember the quote by Swami Vivekananda- “There is a danger of our religion getting into the kitchen” and unfortunately this is what has happened. The menace of “untouchability” has divided our society till today even after the abolition of it, under Article 17 of Indian Constitution.
The series also tells about the “god-men” present in our society and how do these worthless people brainwash young people towards inactivity, self-doubt, and destruction. I really get irritated whenever these people come to the limelight. They are the most hypocritical people in our society. Here I remember a story –An Astrologers Day of R K Narayan, where a person is unemployed and has nothing to do then, he becomes a baba who has only one work, to manipulate people for his own benefit.
It was really ironic when the directors try to unfurl the whole “Kamandalisation of Indian politics” starting with the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s decision of Shah Bano Case and he denied the benefits of this decision to Muslim Women by passing Muslim Women Benefit Bill in 1986. It is also written in various books that he was the one who ordered for opening the lock of controversial Ram temple. However, the most interesting observation was the decision to allow the show of “Ramayana” by Ramanand Sagar which started in 1987 exactly at the same time that created the image of “Rama” in the psyche of every citizen of the country.
In fact, one of the hilarious scenes where ‘Gaitonde’ is talking to ‘Trivedi’, he cuts him short by telling that he has come from the generation where Ramayana was created by Ramananda Sagar and not Valmiki. Here I would like to share an incident- Every Dasherra, we witness “Ramleela” at Ramleela Maidan in Delhi. It’s not the people who play Raam, Lakshman and Sita who are important but the people in power. Basically the people who are in power kill Ravan in the Ramleela. It also shows that how the then Prime Minister used “appeasement politics” for both the communities which finally led to the catastrophe of Babri-Masjid Demolition and subsequent riots in various cities.
Hindu-Muslim riots happen in our country with a consistency and it destroys the innocent lives. Series also showed that how innocents are like “collateral damage” in the war between two communities. When Gaitonde’s wife “Subhadra” is killed and he goes on a spree killing thousands of people from other communities just to take the revenge is a grim reminder to the philosophy of ‘an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind’. Through the role of Katekar(Police Constable), series also shows the inherent bias in the system towards minority community. But it also shows honesty and commitment to service by the same constable and how he is feeling guilty when he didn’t work for that particular case.
There is so much to write about this series that in every scene it is forcing you to think and relate to the pressing issues of the society and politics. In fact, the role of Cuckoo( Kubbra Sai) was very bold and it tells you that it is high time that Section 377 must be decriminalized because those people are also human beings and we must give them space to live as we all agree that this is an era where “human rights” are the most important. You need to accept those people as they are.
However, on a critical side, the series is loaded with pessimism with a “ray of hope” here and there. It also reminds me of the book-Homo sapiens by Harari where he convinces us that we have created religion and it is one of the most successful myth which binds the people in one or the other community and if we want to get out of this myth, we have to create another ‘myth’ to survive. Here, I also remember the conversation between Gaitonde and his wife Subhadra where they talk about religion and Subhadra tells that ” religion gives hope to the poor”.
This series is a powerful depiction of the reality of the society and it forces you to think about various issues prevailing in our society. It successfully portrays the nexus among politicians, businessmen, crime, and religion through godmen and I was flabbergasted when Sartaj Singh’s mother watches the same godmen who is the main villain in coming episodes played by Pankaj Tripathi. Things are so much connected and are part of our daily routines that it is very difficult for us to unlearn it. It’s up to us to create awareness among others and understand the issues in an objective manner and make others aware of their biases. As Sartaj Singh’s father Dilbag Singh practiced goodness without discriminating between people as criminal or innocent, we should also practice the same. The scene where he gives ‘roti’ to Gaitonde when he is locked up in ‘anda cell’, tells me to be hopeful and positive even if there is so much manipulation, cheating, lies, etc in this world.