At the outset, let me say that this is the most audacious attempt in any genre of Indian filmmaking. You may find the violence or liberal use of cuss words off-putting but there’s a prophetic order in this madcap drama. These are sacred games played by the rules of profanity. Where demons reside in the heart of God and human beings are mere playthings in the hands of a maverick presiding deity.
The series is so rooted in the Indian idiom — colloquial, raw, uninhibited and overwhelming — that it rings a bell of familiar disgust and delight. The ethos it captures mirrors abuse and depravity. You begin to wonder and look for a redeeming quality.
And there are many in these sacred games played by the rules of profanity. A ganglord considers himself beyond God and chooses to kill himself. A transgender falls in love and destroys herself, and in the process, elevates herself beyond the pale and right into the cinematic lore. A quiet, demure, silently suffering wife breaks free and not only bares her breasts but a steeliness to kill.
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Nawazuddin Siddiqui plays the role of his lifetime and surpasses himself. Saif Ali Khan’s controlled performance seethes with unrequited intensity; Kubbra as Cuckoo is enigmatic and magical and Rajshri as Subhadra is a cauldron of revelation. My only quib: Radhika Apte is wasted as a desk operative. She has so much more to offer.
This is Anurag Kashyap at his best, clearly influenced by the lyrical gore of Tarantino. And I don’t know which scenes were directed by the equally brilliant Vikramaditya Motwane, but the sum of the parts emerges as greater than the whole.
This is a triumph of bravado in filmmaking, a celebration of craft, conviction and a certain daring that stems from recklessness. Over the years, Sacred Games will acquire a cult status.
Netflix, take a bow and thank you for this groundbreaking series. Can’t wait for more!
By Sanjay Trehan
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