Scam 2003 Volume 2 is leagues ahead of the first part

Gagan Dev Riar makes Abdul Karim Telgi, India’s biggest scamster, come alive in Scam 2003 Volume 2. Photo: Trailer Video Grab

Like all such brief second parts (totally unnecessary but a growing ‘evil’ on Indian OTT), Scam 2003’s concluding 5-part volume is leagues better than the first five episodes streamed three months ago.

That is, it is livelier, full of humor and satire as well, and has a finale that is also emotional, besides the entertainment quotient. The few clips shown give the impression that Telgi’s famous one-liners are typical of the real man whose story is being narrated. Yes, let us not forget that the story is real, however dramatized for the screen, and based on a  biography of Abdul Karim Telgi, the man who rose from the slums to “make” and not “earn” money. And finally, after involving cops and politicians galore, he was responsible for India’s biggest stamp paper scam—worth Rs. 30,000 crore!

The sheer genius and audacity of Telgi (Gagan Dev Riar) is best seen even in adversity. In the beginning of this part of his saga, he is diagnosed as HIV positive. The sequences where he blames a prostitute for “killing me” and the section where he threatens “bullying” cops with “I have got AIDS!” and pretending to spit his saliva and spill his blood on their bodies are highlights. I also loved the sequence of the last call with his mother and also the truth serum sequence.

By now, the devious scamster genuinely thinks he has done no harm and has benefitted the public. He has the temerity to lecture a cop on social inequality and at the same time scuffle shamelessly at his mother’s burial ground. And yet he is a born romantic, as shown by the way his steely resolve not to give in is dissolved by his final (on-screen) meeting with his now wheelchair-bound wife, Nafisa (Sana Amin Sheikh), who entreats him to surrender for the sake of their daughter Zia’s future.

That this sequence is again real is shown by the director’s deft clips of the real Telgi talking to the journalist who filed his dossier. Later, we get to learn how the real widow gave up all the properties Telgi had purchased with tainted moneys to the government.

Everyone’s performance is of high standards, especially Sana’s as his long-suffering wife, Bharat Dabholkar as one of the scheming politicians, and the actress who play Telgi’s daughter whose name I could not trace. But the real star is Gagan Dev Riar, as mentioned in my earlier volume’s review in September. Look at, among other things, his performance in the truth serum sequence. The man deserves national, if not global, recognition for his phenomenal talent and decidedly OTT awards this year!

As we have seen with The Night Manager and The Freelancer, I just cannot fathom why web sagas have to be pared into two when the meatier and more substantial segments are to come later. This not only alienates viewers but give a wrong impression to reviewers.

After all, this is not just web fiction. It is a story with hard-hitting, almost moral science-like lessons that gives us so many home-truths and perspectives on human greed, misplaced values that tempt get-rich-fast attitudes and how rot begins with the very forces that are appointed to help the nation—politicians and policemen.

Rating: ****

Sony LIV presents Applause Entertainment’s & Studio NEXT’s Scam 2003  Part 2 Produced by: Sameer Nair, Deepak Segal & Indranil Chakraborty Directed by: Hansal Mehta & Tushar Hiranandani  Developed by: Hansal Mehta Written by: Sanjay Singh, Karan Vyas, Kiran Yadnyopavit & Kedar Patankar  Music: Ishaan Chhabra  Starring: Gagan Dev Riar, Hemang Vyas, Mukesh Tiwari, Talat Aziz, Sana Amin Sheikh, Bharat Jadhav, Iravati Harshe, Kiran Karmakar, Aman Verma, Shaad Randhawa, Shashank Ketkar, Nikhil Ratnaparkhi, Dinesh Lal Yadav, Bharat Dabholkar, Bhavana Balsavar, Nivedita Bhargava, Nandu Madhav, Kirandeep Kaur, Bharat Jadhav & others




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