From the bylanes of Mumbai to being wanderlust (well, not exactly) in several other countries, Ganesh Gaitonde has certainly come a long way in the second season of Sacred Games Season 2. After just over a year of being a mammoth success and the primary subject of memes, Netflix’s Sacred Games is back with a new season. Amidst all the noise that surrounded the show since last year, there were a lot of burning questions coming into the second season. Having had the privilege to view three episodes before-hand, here’s what I thought about the new season of Anurag Kashyap-Neeraj Ghaywan directed Sacred Games.
While you can be rest assured that this is indeed a SPOILER-FREE review, you may still have to re-watch bits and parts of the first season in order to have a link before you begin. Trust me, you will need it.
Picking Up Where It Left Off
Again. Don’t worry. This will be free of any spoilers. The story begins exactly where it ended last season which was Gaitonde (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) being rescued (apparently) by Guruji’s (Pankaj Tripathi) men from the hellacious beating inside the prison. Now, Gaitonde is estranged on a boat where he is tied up and hates eating fish. (Obviously, you are on a boat for over 40 days and you are only being fed fish. Duh!) Gationde continues to be the best narrator even this time as he explains us as how he has no idea what is happening to him. Where is he being taken? Who are these men/women around him? Will he actually live or die? Absolutely no idea. But we know Gaitonde well enough to understand he will defy the odds yet again. (Not a spoiler).
Coming to Sartaj Singh (Saif Ali Khan), the cop and his team begin an investigation after last season’s cliffhanger of finding Trivedi dead and the apparent plans of the country being in danger of a future nuclear explosion. Things have however changed for Sartaj, where he is no longer the good-for-nothing cop but in fact, the lead of his team in the Trivedi case much to the chagrin of Parulkar (Neeraj Kabi) and Majid Khan (Aamir Bashir). We also finally get to meet Sartaj’s estranged wife, Megha and things are certainly not well between them.
The story thus keeps shifting timelines between Gationde’s actual meeting with Guruji and how he became his ‘teesra baap’; and Sartaj’s continuous quest to Trivedi’s murder, an apparent nuclear explosion and the ill-fated connection between his father and Gaitonde.
Remember all those reasons for which you absolutely loved the first season of the show? Well, nothing changes in that aspect even in the second season. Be it any department – acting, writing, dialogues, screenplay – the second season makes sure you don’t get disappointed for what you loved the show initially.
Writing and Performances
Continuing from the above-mentioned point, two aspects especially stand-out for the show just like they did before. The writing by Varun Grover, Dhruv Narang and Smita Singh makes sure that multiple layers of this elongated saga are treated with care and importance. From some quote-worthy dialogues to the intricacies of a couple of characters, the writers do not disappoint in shaping the characters.
And rather obvious but yes! Nawazuddin Siddiqui shines as Gaitonde yet again but what is truly brilliant about him this time is how we get to see a different side of Gaitonde. He had all the power before falling rock bottom in Season 1; this time, it’s about his rise back to the top as he does things completely against his true-self. It not for Nawaz’s ability to shift gears, this would come across as boring.
Saif Ali Khan as Sartaj may not have much difference to some viewers but the small details of the changes that his character has gone through are finely portrayed by the actor. Inspite of being a leader this time, he doesn’t have an exuberant approach and is still the mellow, calm and nice human being that he was before.
Pankaj Tripathi as Guruji has a suspenseful menace that he exhibits and that’s where he excels. In the three episodes, there is nothing too bad or gory about Guruji being a bad man or ‘showing-his-true-colors’ but that is the beauty of his character, where only by smiling and preaching, he is one of the most dangerous men you can come across.
Special mentions for Suvreen Chawla as Jojo and new addition, Amruta Subhash as Kusum Devi Yadav. The latter is a new character but boy is she easily one of the best things about this season. From being the one who controls Gaitonde on her fingers to an aged woman who has a deep dark secret, Amruta is indeed the best new addition.
What Doesn’t Work?
Unlike the first season, this one does have more loopholes to be looked into.
Again. It is a sheer task to have Indian viewers get adapted to multiple timelines in a long story. And even though Sacred Games does reasonably well overall, you may get a little caught up with the timelines in the show. Apart from Gationde and Singh’s own timelines, we keep having flashes of Gationde’s initial days from the past again and back to Singh’s initial days. This is done in order to create a link between events that are taking place over several years. But the constant shuffle between two and at times, four different time-periods does get a little exhausting.
The New Addition
I cannot talk anything about Ranvir Shorey’s addition to the show for two reasons – One, it is full of spoilers and two, he is barely there in the first three episodes even though everything surrounds around his character, Shahid Khan.
But the one character that we can talk about is Kalki Koechlin’s Batya Abelman. Abelman is shown to be a disciple of Guruji who joined him in the early days and has now taken over the latter’s ashram as in-charge. Kalki has nothing much to with her character even though she is a fine actress herself. In spite of having a good amount of screen-time, Abelman as a character is bland and has no impact whatsoever. I am giving it the benefit of doubt of how it may shine and progress in the later episodes.
Lack of Novelty
You can never take away the love for novelty and seeti-maar dialogues that make a show a cult. Gaitonde’s swagger and unforgettable lines like ‘Bhagwan ko mante ho?’, ‘Kabhi kabhi lagta hai apun hi bhagwan hai’ among others created a rage and was also one of the reasons for the show reaching as far as it did. Of course, I did not expect a repetition of the same here but the point is the reason the show did so well initially was because it was novel. A second season of any show usually suffers the same problem and Sacred Games is no exception. Where novelty is lost, crisp writing and tight screenplay become the show’s saviors. And while those departments cannot be complained about with this show too, the lack of novelty does seem to affect the show on the whole.
In spite of some obvious challenges and uncooked characters, Sacred Games Season 2 successfully manages to satisfy a viewer who was quenching for the arrival of new episodes. Let us not forget how the show is one of India’s first originals on Netflix that has managed to create a huge global impact. So, taking that and many other things into account, Sacred Games is most definitely worth all that time you would put into viewing eight episodes.