Scam 2003: The Telgi Story
From 'risk hai toh ishq hai' to 'life mein neeche se upar challang maarni ho toh daring karna padega na darling', the legacy of the Scam series will be one to remember. Coming out of nowhere back in 2020, Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story went on to become a sensation and rightfully so. Now, after three years, we have another monumental event in the financial history of India to look forward to - Scam 2003: The Telgi Story, produced by Applause Entertainment and Studio NXT.
Surrounding the life of Abdul Karim Telgi (played by Gagan Dev Riar), the story chronicles the life of Telgi, a humble fruit-seller in Karnataka whose talent and flare catch the eye of a person in a train and thus begins the journey of a man who not only became a counterfeiter but became responsible for one of the biggest financial scams of all time, amounting to Rs 30,000 crores.
Interestingly, this time, the makers are releasing the show in two volumes. Vol. 1, consisting of five episodes, is out now. Having had the chance to see it beforehand, here is what I thought about it-
The Story With More Twists & Turns
What makes the saga of Telgi more engaging right away is the fact that the trajectory of the man is as opposed to how it was for Harshad Mehta. Ranging from being a humble and honest man with a flare to win people over to gradually aiming bigger but going through a route that wasn't to be taken. Then follows another up-and-down journey for Telgi from being put down to rising up and then being put down again only to rise higher. Even in the five episodes that are available, so much happens when it comes to popcorn viewing of a man's dramatic life; it just becomes a treat in every aspect.
Being Information Dense & Living Up To The Legacy
One of the most refreshing aspects of Scam 1992 was just how information-dense it was and how it wasn't afraid to throw in an array of jargon, terminologies, and even teachings that made the show what it was. With Scam 2003, that isn't compromised in any manner again, but it also helps that the subject matter is relatively easier to grasp and be invested in than the stock market was. The what and how a stamp paper can result in a truckload of money, the ugliness of human behavior and more and more men being as pathetic as they can be just for money and power - The Telgi Story is scandalising, sensational, intriguing, and a character study to be engrossed in.
The million-dollar question that everyone had immediately was if this scam and the makers were able to live up to the legacy they created themselves. The answer, after watching five episodes, is a resounding yes! Everyone responsible for making the show gives their best, and it shows,
Gagan Dev Riar, Mukesh Chhabra & Other Winners
The writing and direction department deserves special kudos for making sure the research, yet again, is detailed and intricate to the T. But once again, it casting director Mukesh Chhabra and his team that deserve every bit of the adulation for a casting masterstroke with each and every actor that is being cast. Guess what? Chhabra makes a very interesting cameo as well.
But make way for another actor, who is and should be labelled another 'find' of the streaming space - Gagan Dev Riar as Telgi. Riar embodies Telgi in every way possible as he plays it with a certain innocence and even has you feeling a minor sense of empathy, even if his ways and the continued graph aren't ideal in any manner. Even as he gets bigger, as arrogant and egoistic as Telgi, Riar keeps his performance top-notch. To see actors like Sameer Dharmadhikari, Bhavana Balsaver, and so many others in important roles is such a pleasant sight.
Even though the pacing of the third episode and going into the fourth episode suffers a tad bit owing to predictable outcomes, Scam 2003: The Telgi Story still manages to be an absolute belter of a watch as it presents a saga that is engaging, interesting, leaves you wondering, informative and most importantly entertaining.
Rating - **** (4/5)