The moody, compelling Season 1 of the Netflix original Sacred Games had laid out a sprawling, operatic, politically provocative and immensely addictive double-narrative centered around its two protagonists – sidelined Mumbai cop Sartaj Singh (Saif Ali Khan) defiant on unraveling a potential terror threat; and the turbulent, spectacular journey of Bombay don Ganesh Gaitonde (Nawazuddin Siddiqui). The 2nd season continued from where it left off as the two strands – the present and the past – gradually and inevitably merge. Sartaj, who’s now heading the against-the-clock investigation, starts connecting the murky dots which leads him to an enigmatic religious cult, a promiscuous pedagogue (Kalki Koechlin), a hyper-nationalist rabble rouser (Girish Kulkarni) and his deceased father. Gaitonde’s eventful saga, meanwhile, continues 1994 onwards as he’s banished to Mombasa where he becomes a mobster as well as a henchman on leash for dogged, poker-faced Intelligence Officer Kusum (Amruta Subhash), begins a strangely affecting telephonic affair with the sassy, foul-mouthed madam (Surveen Chawla) of a high-end brothel, and becomes drawn towards a sinister Hindutva “guru” (Pankaj Tripathi) who’s harbouring apocalyptic plans. While Nawaz continued to be arresting as the hilariously crude, eccentric and increasingly contemplative force of nature, Saif was excellent too in portraying Sartaj’s dilemmas, loneliness and grief over estrangement with his wife (Anupriya Goenka). And, while Tripathi, Kulkarni and Neeraj Kabi (as a corrupt cop) were good as always, Subhash and Chawla provided the standout performances this time around. Though still operatic, sprawling, politically provocative and addictive, the 2nd season lacked the wicked humour, gleeful unpredictability, frenetic energy and grimy pull of the 1st season. That, combined with the overused trope of a mastermind villain keen on nuking mankind for its own good, made this comparatively more formulaic and banal.
Director: Anurag Kashyap, Neeraj Ghaywan
Genre: Crime Thriller/Gangster/Political Thriller/Police Procedural/TV Series