A new series promises to take you into depths of India's underworld. Sacred Games dropped on Netflix on 6th July, marking the very first Indian original series for the streaming platform. It's also a juicy crime thriller that combines a hardboiled detective story with magical realism. Will it be just as all-consuming as Pablo Escobar's final chapters in Netflix's Narcos?
Sacred Games, which debuted with eight hour-long episodes, is based on Vikram Chandra's 2006 novel of the same name. The sprawling novel tells not just one story, but many (it's a big book), allowing it to be a true tapestry of life in Mumbai — albeit a heightened one.
The TV series opens with a hardworking, honest cop named Singh (Saif Ali Khan) who gets a call that will ultimately shake up everything he thinks he knows about the police force and his own family. The anonymous call is from a man who we later learn is the long-missing criminal Gaitonde (Nawazuddin Siddiqui). Gaitonde claims to know Singh's father — but that's not the only piece of information that has Singh listening closely. In less than a month, Gaitonde says, Mumbai will be struck by a catastrophic event — which means Singh better listen up to what Gaitonde tells him.
Each episode of the series is named after an element of Hindu mythology (the premiere episode, "Ashwatthama," is named after an immortal warrior) further tying the series to its Indian roots. The series can be watched in its original language, Hindi, or can be viewed dubbed over in English. (Unlike some non-English streaming series, Sacred Games does a great job at making the dubbing seem almost seamless.)
This ambitious series is also an important one. As its first Indian original (several more, including an adaptation of Salman Rushdie's novel Midnight's Children, are in the works) Sacred Games is expanding voices of Southeast Asia to a global audience. It may be "just" television, but it's also pushing forth important representation. TV is going global — and Sacred Games is just one way viewers can expand their worldview.