By Joginder Tuteja
What a week it was for those who love to catch up on real life tales. Especially the ones who are possibly treading in the grey zones. The ones who are termed as ‘white collar criminals’ but were (or were not) really ‘India’s Most Wanted’ as they were turned out to be. Were they heroes? Were they villains? Were the in-betweeners? Or were they someone else?
The world of OTT is indeed bringing some fascinating stories on screen and two such offerings in the week gone by were Scam 1992 and Bad Boy Billionaires. Thank goodness for the digital medium because if not for these, either these stories would have been lost in oblivion as docudramas on some obscure channel or presented in a two hour long movie which wouldn’t have really gone into the kind of detailing as you see here.
But before all of this, let me talk about Scam 1992. It, by all means, is one of the best offerings on the OTT this year, and stands shoulder to shoulder with two of her other best web series of 2020, Special Ops [Disney + Hotstar] and Undekhi [Sony LIV]. These two, both being thrillers, have been my personal favorites of 2020 and have in fact also got some grey eyeballs from audiences over the months gone by. Now Scam 1992, yet another gem on Sony LIV from Applause Entertainment after Undekhi, has set huge standards of telling a real life tale.
Telling the tale of Harshad Mehta right from the time he was sharing a one room chawl with his parents, wife and brother, to owning a plush penthouse facing the sea with a private swimming pool no less, Scam 1992 is actually as heroic as it gets. Based on the well documented work of Times of India journalist Sucheta Dalal and her then-boyfriend (and now husband) Debashish Basu, this one actually narrates the tale of a man who knew how to mould the system to his convenience while making sure that his investors made money as well.
One thing that comes out of this brilliant work of Hansal Mehta (and his co-director son Jai Mehta)? He was the one who got caught!
In fact it is pretty much stated during this excellent 10 episode series (with each episode detailed enough to last almost an hour) that what Harshad Mehta did was a fraction of what most of the people of his ilk did (and are still doing), but then either they didn’t get caught or did it with ‘class’ (as a character says) in comparison to his (crass) style.
As entertaining as it gets, this one also boasts of a brilliant supporting cast (credit casting director Mukesh Chhabra for that) including Shreya Dhanwanthary, Hemant Kher, Nikhil Dwivedi, Chirag Vohra, K.K. Rainia, Rajat Kapoor, Satish Kaushik, Anant Mahadevan, Anjali Barot and Shadaab Khan. However, the man of the moment is Pratik Gandhi who scores a perfect 10 for his portrayal of Harshad Mehta. He doesn’t ‘look’ him; he ‘turns’ out to be him, and that’s the best compliment for an actor who delivers best with his craft instead of impersonating a person.
While Scam 1992 is indeed a must watch, another mini-series on Netflix, Bad Boy Billionaires, is worth a dekko as well. Well, it could have been termed as superb but then it came close on the heels of Scam 1992 and the problem that this series faces is that of comparison. At the same time as its arrival has came Scam 1992 and that has turned out to be a textbook for presenting the life and times of a man who was found to be on the other side of the law. Here, despite glamorous figures like Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Subrata Roy, it falls a little short.
For starters, this one spends just about an hour each on the three men. Compare this with 10 hours that are spent on Harahad Mehta and simple calculations show that the content here would be mere 10%. Moreover, while it is presented as a documentary (which is not a bad thing actually), it almost comes across as an appreciation film for the three accused than anything.
The most disappointing of them all is the one on Vijay Mallya. I don’t mind if this was meant to be a ‘worshipping’ affair; a maker has a right to do that. However, when a web series is sold as a ‘sensational tale’ then one looks for something that is truly hard hitting. Here, the story concludes as ‘Oh, but he is just like a child’. Again, nothing wrong with that. Neither am I a court nor justice, and most certainly I don’t know the entire fact. However, as a viewer I was mentally prepared to watch something, and here what’s presented is something else.
Things get better though with the two stories that followed. It is interesting to see Nirav Modi as this suave businessman who actually had the vision to take India’s jewellery lifestyle brand globally. It is exciting to see how he rose up the ranks, how he hobnobbed with the best in the business, how he let his employees happy, how he settled for nothing but exemplary for the designs that came out of his factory, and how he eventually turned out to be a fugitive. What really happened? What went wrong? Did he mould the law too much? Well, the case is still on.
The best of the lot though is the one on Subrata Roy, the Chairman of Sahara India Pariwar, who apparently had over 3 million small investors, before things went kaput. This is the one which is actually the most balanced of them all and turns out to be a story where you can actually take a call on right versus wrong. Telling the story of a man who started with a chit fund scheme (later projected to be a scam), it turns out to be the most chilling affair of them all as it effects the grassroots, the downtrodden, the ones for whom saving means Rs.10 a day.
On your face, straight forward, unpretentious and hard hitting, it is this very episode that makes one wonder why Bad Boy Billionaires couldn’t have stayed consistent like this across each of the three episodes. Nonetheless, what matters is that newer kind of stores and narratives are being told week after week.
Watch out for
In this week, some more stories are being on the anvil. There is a very commercial Poison 2 [Aftab Shivdasani, Raai Laxmi] on ZEE5, which is based on revenge, a short film Laghushanka [Shweta Tripathi] on Sony LIV which is about bed wetting and Comedy Couple [Saqib Saleem, Shweta Basu Prasad], a made-for-digital film on ZEE5 about a stand-up comedy couple. Stay tunes and I would back talking about these, and more!
(Joginder Tuteja is a trade expert and film critic, and loves to talk and write about anything that is related to films. Views are personal.)
২৪X৭ নিউজ বেঙ্গল এ সবার আগে পড়ুন ব্রেকিং নিউজ। থাকছে দৈনিক টাটকা খবর, খবরের লাইভ আপডেট। সবচেয়ে ভরসাযোগ্য বাংলা এবং ইংলিশ খবর পড়ুন ২৪X৭ নিউজ বেঙ্গল এর ওয়েবসাইটে। নিয়মিত খবরে থাকতে লাইক করুন ফেসবুকে ও ফলো করুন টুইটারে।
‘রঙ’ ছাড়া সংবাদ খুঁজে পাওয়া কঠিন। কোন খবরটা ‘খাচ্ছে’? সেটাই কি শেষ কথা? নাকি আসল সত্যিটার নাম ‘সংবাদ’! ‘ব্রেকিং’ আর প্রাইম টাইমের পিছনে দৌড়তে গিয়ে দেওয়ালে পিঠ ঠেকেছে সত্যিকারের সাংবাদিকতার। অর্থ আর চোখ রাঙানিতে হাত বাঁধা সাংবাদিকদের। কিন্তু, গণতন্ত্রের চতুর্থ স্তম্ভে ‘রঙ’ লাগানোয় বিশ্বাসী নই আমরা। আর মৃত্যুশয্যা থেকে ফিরিয়ে আনতে পারেন আপনারাই। সোশ্যালের ওয়াল জুড়ে বিনামূল্যে পাওয়া খবরে ‘ফেক’ তকমা জুড়ে যাচ্ছে না তো? আসলে পৃথিবীতে কোনও কিছুই ‘ফ্রি’ নয়। তাই, আপনার দেওয়া একটি টাকাও অক্সিজেন জোগাতে পারে। স্বতন্ত্র সাংবাদিকতার স্বার্থে আপনার স্বল্প অনুদানও মূল্যবান। পাশে থাকুন।