Split between 2 characters, Indian Netflix Original Sacred Games is an astonishing, unique show that mixes excellent cinematography and competent writing with well rounded characters to produce one of the most impressive crime thrillers to be released this year. Spread across 8 episodes, the story reveals slowly while the action moves forward at breakneck speed, jumping from one well shot action piece to the next while peppering the series with a unique ensemble of colourful characters keeping this one engaging and enthralling to watch.
The story begins simply enough with Sartaj Singh (Saif Ali Khan), a police officer struggling to live up to the lofty expectations of his father whose death casts an ominous shadow over his life. With corruption running deep in the police force, Singh receives an anonymous phone call tipping off the whereabouts of notorious crime lord Ganesh Gaitonde (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) who has been missing for 16 years. After an opening episode that sees Singh playing cat and mouse with the crime lord as he scrambles to track him down, what follows are a series of episodes that launch Singh’s investigation into this case whilst showing Ganesh’s rises to infamy in a series of flashbacks. All the while an ominous warning from Ganesh reveals in 25 days everyone will die, injecting the series with some much needed urgency as Singh tries to solve the case.
For the most part this dual focus works really well, showcasing both characters’ journeys in stark contrast – Singh’s on the straight and narrow, haunted by the actions of his past, Ganesh’s forged in a gleeful river of blood and chaos. With numerous questions hanging over large stretches of the series, the final episode does a pretty good job wrapping up some of the loose ends, showing just what Ganesh’s true intentions are and what this means for India, while ending on an almighty cliffhanger that is sure to leave you wanting more when the credits roll.
If you haven’t heard of Directors Anurag Kashyap & Vikramaditya Motwane before, their style is felt all over these impressively shot 8 episodes. There’s a real technicality to a lot of the action with a mixture of long and short shots, a real understanding of artistic framing and a masterful use of colour and lighting. The series doesn’t relinquish this artistic grip either and the final episode is just as creative as the first, using a wide variety of technical abilities to help set Sacred Games apart from other thrillers in this genre. It’s worth noting too that the series is incredibly graphic and violent. Expect plenty of close-up gunshots, bloodshed, torture, sex and expletives littered throughout the series and those with a weaper disposition may well be turned off from this.
While the main focus is on Ganesh and Sartaj, there’s still a decent amount of time spent with the supporting cast and whether it be one of Ganesh’s thugs Bunty (Jatin Sarna) or Sartaj’s wife Megha (Anupriya Goenka), each of the characters are allowed the time to grow while never losing focus on the main plot line that remains suspenseful and enjoyable throughout.
Sacred Games is likely to be the Indian series that puts the country on the map. We watched Amazon’s Indian Original Breathe a while back and praised that for its great focus on story and technicality but Sacred Games feels like a step up from that. The exquisite cinematography and well written story is a joy to watch unfold although the almighty cliffhanger at the end of the final episode is one of the only blemishes on an otherwise impressive series. Incredibly violent and featuring some well fleshed out characters, Sacred Games is a surprisingly endearing series and one of the dark horses of the year for sure.