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Series / Sacred Games

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There are twenty-five days. Save your city.
"Do you believe in God?"

Sacred Games is a Netflix Original Series adaptation of Vikram Chandra's novel of the same name. Released as a part of Netflix Indian Originals and produced in collaboration with Phantom Films and directed by Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane, the series stars Saif Ali Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and Radhika Apte. The series was released to Netflix on July 6, 2018.

Sartaj Singh, an honest police officer in Bombay, receives a call from an anonymous tip-off. The caller is notorious criminal Ganesh Gaitonde, who has been missing for the last 17 years. Gaitonde tells him the story of his life, and leaves a single cryptic warning.

Sartaj has 25 days to save the city.

A second season was released on August 15, 2019.


Sacred Games contains examples of:

  • A God Am I: Gaitonde. He likens himself to the warrior Ashwatthama, declaring himself immortal, and says that he feels like a god several times.
    Gaitonde: I am the Alpha and the Omega. note 
  • All for Nothing: Sartaj learns of RAW's plan to extract Bunty and Nayanika (the latter against her will) in exchange for information on the event that is to happen in 25 days. In order to save Nayanika, Sartaj makes a deal with Parulkar for backup (not knowing that Parulkar himself has an interest in killing Bunty) - Parulkar will help Sartaj if he agrees to lie to the hearing board about Junaid's murder. However, the mission goes very, very bad, ending up with both Nayanika and Bunty dead, and Sartaj still has to lie to the board, ensuring Junaid's family will never receive justice.
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  • Anyone Can Die: Nobody is safe. By the end of season 1, the casualties among named characters, just in the present, include Gaitonde (right in episode one), Nayanika, Bunty, Katekar, Anjali, and Trivedi.
  • Bad Boss: Parulkar and Shukla. Parulkar taunts Sartaj over his wife leaving him, and Shukla, the heavily casteist owner of the Hindu hotel, despite adulterating his food, would constantly berate Gaitonde for not being clean enough, and did not pay him for over two months. Gaitonde gets back at him by hiding chicken bones in the rice of the meal, something that would be intolerable to the devout Hindus diners, who beat him up.
  • Big Bad: Guruji is responsible for the bomb attacks in Mumbai.
  • Butt-Monkey: During the first half of the series, Sartaj just can't catch a break. We meet him recently divorced and contemplating suicide, and this is before he gets beat up several times and has his car burned.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Sartaj at the start, and his father, Dilbag Singh. This is typically a bad idea in a Vice City where the police are corrupt. Sartaj, in the end, moves towards being a Cowboy Cop.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: From the moment he meets Nayanika and learns of her condition as Bunty's abusee, Sartaj is adamant that he must save her after he promises to do so. This leads him to rashly charge into Bunty's house and get captured and beat up by his men, cutting a deal with Parulkar which involves lying to the hearing board to exonerate him of Junaid's murder, and intervene with RAW's extraction of Bunty and Nayanika which ends up with both of them dead. Anjali even calls him out on this.
  • Cowboy Cop: Justified with Sartaj. He steals evidence, doesn't follow instructions by his superiors, and continues investigating the case while put on leave, but only because he correctly assumes that everyone else involved in the case is corrupt. Made unmistakably clear when he lies to the hearing board as part of his deal with Parulkar to try and save Nayanika, and then shoots the man who killed Katekar.
  • Dirty Cop / Rabid Cop: Parulkar and Majid. Parulkar kills, in cold blood, a young unarmed 18-year-old man, Junaid, suspected of being a terrorist, who is surrendering. Majid then goes along with a concocted story of how Junaid had in fact shot at him and pointed his gun at Parulkar before being shot, and then beats up Sartaj when he leaves the hearing in disgust. Katekar says that the entire hearing board had already been rigged, and even if Sartaj would present his testimony, it wouldn't matter. In the end, as part of his deal with Parulkar to try and save Nayanika, Sartaj caves and backs Parulkar's lie.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Gaitonde has two major lovers during the course of the series, the second of which he ends up marrying. He genuinely cares about both of them and is distraught when they both end up dying.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Gaitonde's gang is probably the most diverse gang in Indian cinematic history, with Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Jews all working together. This is the reason why he initially rebuffs Vipin Bhosale, before Bunty negotiates with the latter and works out a deal. It couldn't last - after the riots and learning of Bada Badariya's treachery, along with Subhadra's death, Gaitonde becomes a full-on Hindu gangster.
  • Groin Attack: Salim bhai is famous for his 'ball-busting', grabbing a man's balls and squeezing them so hard the man dies. Doesn't save him from being killed by Gaitonde.
  • Handicapped Badass: Sartaj after Malcolm Murad cuts off his thumb.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Zoya manipulates Parulkar into helping her plant drugs into Karan's luggage, ensuring his arrest by Dubai authorities once he lands, by beating herself with his dumbbell. This would make her very unsympathetic if not for the fact that Karan is a psychotic emotional abuser who had previously run over two homeless people while drunk, thrown her dog out of the window because "its face looked like Donald Trump", and threatened to reveal her past as one of Jojo's girls if she refused to act in a film with him.
  • Mexican Standoff: Happens several times during the series, most famously during Bunty's escape attempt.
  • Noble Bigot with a Badge: Katekar's animus against Muslims is a nuanced example. He is dismissive of Aasiya Bi and her missing son, putting off writing a report about the case even as she is camped outside his office almost every day and telling her to her face that her son probably got mixed up in gangs, and tells Sartaj that he is wary of there being so many Muslims in the ghetto of Bengali Bura (as Sartaj points out, this does not affect his adoration for Zoya Mirza). He starts to change when he finally visits Aasiya Bi and starts to take an interest in the case. Too bad it ends in his death during the investigation.
  • Oedipus Complex: Discussed by Khanna Guruji in the last episode. In his TV program, he talks about the Western idea of an Oedipus complex, where 'the son envies the father', and contrasts it with the Indian story of Yayati, where 'the father envies the son'.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: At a glance Gaitonde is not a very physically imposing man. He's more than capable of handling himself in a fight, and racks up a massive killcount to show for it.
  • Playing Gertrude: A version. Saif Ali Khan is actually older than Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and yet Sartaj remembers seeing Gaitonde as a child, and Gaitonde clearly owes a debt to Dilbag Singh, Sartaj's father, suggesting that they are contemporaries.
  • Police Are Useless: The Mumbai police as a whole are less than enthusiastic in dealing with cases where citizens from Bengali Bura, a Muslim area of the city, are involved.
  • Running Gag: Katekar immediately leaving wherever he is whenever he gets a call from Sartaj, much to his wife's chagrin. Becomes a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment when Katekar's wife tearfully begs Sartaj to call him after his murder, hoping that he would wake up because 'he would do it for you'.
  • Son of a Whore: Gaitonde's mother worked as a prostitute while her husband was away begging for alms. It seemed to be an open secret - young Ganesh is mocked for it by the school bullies. It got her killed by him when he found her with a client.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: How Bunty ends up dying. Right after being fatally shot, he is run over by a truck at full speed.
  • Vice City: Bombay is presented as this, but also kind of as a very, very cynical flavour of The Promised Land. Sartaj sees it as a Wretched Hive, while Gaitonde sees it as the place where he built his 'empire within the garbage dump'.
    Gaitonde: That is the beauty of this city, sir. Anything is possible.

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