Is 'Sacred Games' India's answer to 'Narcos'?

Published: July 12, 2018
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PHOTO: NETFLIX

Sacred Games, Netflix’s first ever Indian venture, is anchored by Bollywood star Saif Ali Khan, who essays a policeman with just 25 days to head off a major terrorist threat to Mumbai.

The series has been directed by Bollywood veteran Anurag Kashyap and also stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Radhika Apte in pertinent roles. It outlines the life of the police officer Sartaj Singh who has been tipped by an anonymous call one morning, promising him an opportunity to capture the powerful criminal Ganesh Gaitonde, played by Siddiqui. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that there is a lot more at stake in the game than initially seemed, reported The Hindustan Times.

PHOTO: NETFLIX

PHOTO: NETFLIX

While Sacred Games has been gaining popularity steadily, critics and fans are comparing it to another beloved Netflix crime drama: Narcos. The latter depicts the tale of late Colombian drug lord, Pablo Escobar and later transitions to focus on other drug cartels, once Escobar is killed by the DEA.

“Netflix has chosen a production from the same genre as a previous success: the American-Colombian Narcos,” says writer Mike Hale in a review for the New York Times. “While Sacred Games is a fair approximation of the kind of multigenerational, lightly fantastical Asian, African or South American novel that routinely lands on American best-seller lists, its picaresque, expansive storytelling and literary flavour are not what American audiences are used to in a crime series.”

PHOTO: NETFLIX

PHOTO: NETFLIX

The Hollywood Reporter’s review reads, “If Sacred Games can get even a fraction of the available Indian market hooked on its small-screen storytelling, that alone will validate Netflix’s expansion plans. But the bigger goal might be a Narcos-like play to an open-minded international audience that wants to see something familiar but foreign at the same time.”

The Daily Express’ review also lauded Kashyap’s strong hold on story-telling, hoping for more of the same to be produced. “They’ve juxtaposed the grit and the glamour of Mumbai to create a new genre that is quickly being termed Bollywood Noir. Unsurprisingly, Sacred Games is already garnering comparisons to fellow Netflix mafia drama Narcos,” it states. The write-up also praises Siddiqui for his stellar performance as Gaitonde. “Siddiqui is superb as Gaitonde, who is one of the best TV villains for a while and is an anti-hero that you’re rooting for even though he’s a cold-blooded killer.”

PHOTO: HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

PHOTO: HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

Comedian Daniel Fernandez penned down his review in a tweet. “May I be bold enough to say that Sacred Games is on par with Narcos? Can’t wait to see how the world receives it,” he posted. Another Twitter user added, “Just finished watching Netflix India’s Sacred Games… Pleasantly surprised. Thought it would be a Bollywood show but actually felt like a western show. Has a Narcos vibe to it but really looking forward to season two.”

Pablo Escobar is played by actor Wagner Moura, who bows out of the show towards the end of season two. PHOTO: FILE

Pablo Escobar is played by actor Wagner Moura, who bows out of the show towards the end of season two. PHOTO: FILE

But perhaps the most accurate description came from another user who said, “If Gangs of Wasseypur and Narcos had a baby, it would be called Sacred Games.”

Several critics have wondered if Sacred Games can go on to have the international appeal of some of the other shows on Netflix. Like Narcos, Sacred Games also shows the rise of a gangster, with Siddiqui’s Gaitonde juxtaposing his personal struggles to the history of modern India.

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Reader Comments (1)

  • Bunny Rabbit
    Jul 12, 2018 - 11:45AM

    I watched all the 8 episode the very first day . its slightly more visceral than Nacros with the gore/ violence/ expletives / explicit scenes . was all that necessary for the story ?Recommend

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