Don’t Miss Mumbai’s Mob Drama On Netflix


Saudi Gazette

Directed by Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane, Sacred Games is Netflix’s first original series commissioned in India based on Vikram Chandra’s 2006 thriller novel and produced in partnership with Phantom Films. The show aired on Friday garnering a positive response on social media. We caught up with the cast and directors of the show in an in-depth interview.

“We’ve been working with each other all our lives. Working with Netflix wasn’t challenging it was on the contrary, very ‘freeing’ where I could be honest with the material without trying to alter it to suit tastes or viability. The format allowed us to go into the details with the characters where we didn’t need an opening or an explanation as we do in films here,” Anurag Kashyap told Saudi Gazette.

“Assuming that people are interested in the show in the first place has given us the option to do this. You can tell complex stories and not shy away from them and that’s what we are naturally drawn to. We have always worked on things together but this is the first time we have directed anything and I loved it. I trust him implicitly with the material and I’m always excited to see what he’ll do with it,” Vikramaditya Motwane told Saudi Gazette. He said the experience of working on the show was liberating and he enjoyed working with his long time friend and collaborator.

When asked about casting and whether Bollywood stars were apprehensive about the move to a streaming service, the filmmakers said it was easy to get everybody on board. “Netflix immediately says quality. And when it comes to Saif, Nawaz and Radhika, we have worked together before so we know that window’s open for them to listen and the material speaks of itself.” Motwane said. “They have seen Kevin Spacey do a House of Cards. So that’s an equalizer and they know what Netflix can mean. Even for me, I have shot films in 2K and Netflix requires everything in 6K,” Kashyap continued.

Both Motwane and Kashyap shot the series separately, with Kashyap shooting the scenes with Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Motwane with Saif Ali Khan.

“It’s a big change in entertainment. It’s different to shows and films. It’s hard to define that difference but I can compare to how a graphic novel is different to a book or a comic. It’s a character I haven’t ever played before but I love acting and the process that comes along with it.” Saif Ali Khan told Saudi Gazette.

“When I heard of Netflix coming to India, I was keen on exploring it as a producer and thought ‘what would be a really good show to bring to a streaming service’ and I came up with something like the mafia chronicles because there’s something international about exporting that idea. So when Phantom approached me for it as an actor I was on board,” Khan said. When asked about the difference in shooting for a show compared to movies, he said the parameters were slightly different. “Bollywood films can be culturally specific. Where you give the audience what they want. This audience is more diverse or if I may say premium in a way that they would expect a different kind of treatment when it comes to drama or style of acting even.” Khan plays the role of an honest cop Sartaj Singh in the show. “So this character called for a peace and calm. He’s a troubled, honest cop who is addicted to sleeping pills and at an all time low in his life. But then he gets a chance to fix things and a chance to become a hero. He’s an isolated character. His religion isolates him; his morality isolates him. It was beautifully written and lots of fun to do,” he added.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui plays the underworld don Ganesh Gaitonde. “It’s an intense and dark character which requires one to go to that place and explore everything from his point of view. It’s hard of course,” Siddiqui told Saudi Gazette. When asked what helped the process, Siddiqui shared an interesting insight into how he approaches characters. “I see how people feel about the character. Those who approached me for it or even when working on it, I always like to know how they see the character or how they feel about him. I didn’t want to read about it, I wanted to know how it projects itself onto people so I can capture that. Mimicking someone is easy, I can talk or walk like anyone for instance but to become someone and be in that space especially someone like my character is key and was a challenge,” he added. “Acting in a series helps actors to go into details and the complexity of the character, which is really important and the main difference in both,” he told Saudi Gazette. Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s Manto, directed by Nandita Das, will be released later this year.

We also spoke to Radhika Apte, who plays the role of officer Anjali Mathur. “I auditioned for the show. I have worked with phantom extensively who are the collaborators of the show and one of the leading production houses in India. I was supremely excited about working with Netflix and Sacred Games,” Radhika Apte told Saudi Gazette. “As an actor I want my work to be seen by as many people as possible and I wanted to break into the global market. Lust Stories got such a tremendous response. It shows you the magnitude and reach of a digital platform like Netflix,” she added. Lust Stories is an Indian anthology film, consisting of four short film segments directed by Anurag Kashyap, Zoya Akhtar, Dibakar Banerjee, and Karan Johar.

About her character in Sacred Games, Apte said the role was challenging and required a lot of research. “Everything about her was very minimal and focused. I am more emotional about my work. Plus she is in a different world; I live in the limelight. But they are the unsung heroes we don’t get to see or hear about,” she added. Sacred Games is one of the seven Netflix Indian Originals in production.