Let the fact be stated here. By all means, Scam 1992 is not just one of the best web series offerings to have come from the OTT world in 2020, it is amongst the best of the best ever since the market started booming in India. A 10 episode affair which lasts almost 10 hours, this marathon effort by filmmaker Hansal Mehta (along with son and co-director Jai Mehta) is easily the most well researched piece of (almost a docudrama) factual series in play.
The man who makes this possible is Pratik Gandhi. Frankly, OTT medium (in this case, Sony LIV) has turned out to be a boon for all those actors who may not have been a straight forward choice for Bollywood but have now come up with such a remarkable account that you end up exclaiming, ‘Bollywood, it’s your loss more than anyone else’. First Jaideep Ahlawat [Patal Lok] and now Pratik Gandhi; there is something about these unconventional choices of an anti-hero which makes it wonderfully charming to watch them on screen.
Pratik eats up the part of Harshad Mehta, and how. Call it a blessing in disguise but he doesn’t ‘look’ like the man who made headlines back in 1992 for his 5000 crores scam. This way, you focus more on the performance and less on the resemblance (remember Ranbir Kapoor in Sanju? Most of the times as a viewer even I marveled more on how he was ‘being Sanjay Dutt’ more than anything else!). In case of Scam 1992, it’s the actor Pratik Gandhi on display and man, he loves playing this character, and how.
It is stupendous to see how Harshad rises from being a ‘jobber’ (the lowest rung at the stock market ‘tamasha’) to an entrepreneur who ‘guarantees his investors that they would never lose money’. He pretty much makes that happen as well and while his acts could well be questionable (legal, illegal, in-between?), his intentions aren’t. That’s what this Sucheta Dalal and Debashish Basu provided written material, suitably adapted for screen by writers (Sumit Purohit, Vaibhav Vishal, Karan Vyas) for Applause Entertainment (Sameer Nair & Co.) excels most in. You feel for the man, and you don’t turn away.
A family man, who was sure that whether it is a one room chawl or a sea facing apartment (with a private swimming pool to throw in), he and his family (brother Hemant Kher, wife Anjali Barot and the rest) would always stay together under the same roof. It’s all about family after all; they are poor together, they are rich together, and they also scam together. It is a different matter though that the Mehtas wonder whether ‘scam’ is too harsh a word when all they were doing was twisting the law for their (and their investors) benefit.
It is this very dilemma between right v/s wrong that makes you (as a viewer) switch sides at a rapid pace right through this wonderfully crafted web series. Would he still be National Enemy No. 1 had his crime (the nexus that he ran with State Bank of India) not been caught? Would he possibly have shown his back to his investors? Was he actually carrying malafide intentions all this while? Was it the involvement of the foreign banks (read, Citibank) that resulted in ugly competition? Was it the fellow top brokers who curated his downfall out of jealousy?
There are a lot of layers that are covered in Scam 1992 and the actors who add so many dimensions to the viewing experience are in abundance as well. Shreya Dhanwanthary as the gutsy journalist at The Times of India, Nikhil Dwivedi as the high flying Citibank officer, Chirag Vohra as the man who moved on from being a coach to the partner, Satish Kaushik as the foul mouthed top broker who was worshipped before Harshad came into picture, Rajat Kapoor as the headstrong CBI officer, Anant Mahadevan as the RBI Governor, the list is endless.
However, what works best is the seamless manner in which Mehtas [Hansal and Jai] go about integrating emotions, drama and thrills into the screenplay that is focused primarily on the scam. With various government investigation agencies coming together, it further brings in a lot of technical jargon. This also means that for audiences, it takes a couple of episodes to get the ‘sur’ of the web series. However, from the third episode on, there is no looking back and post the interval point (when the scam is exposed), it is a crescendo till the very end.
The review wouldn’t be complete though if not for the mention of Achint Thakkar, the man who creates the signature theme for the opening credits and is also responsible for the overall background score. If the theme track behind Shahid Kapoor’s entry in Kabir Singh was a rage in the world of films, the one created for Pratik Gandhi in Scam 1992 is not behind.
No wonder, an all around effort and a must watch for one and all.