The Hindi film Scam 2003 – The Telgi Story is directed by Tushar Hiranandani and stars Gagan Dev Riar, Sana Amin Sheikh, Shashank Ketkar, Talat Aziz, Bharat Jadhav, Sameer Dharmadhikari
Where can you watch Scam 2003 – The Telgi Story in the UAE?
Scam 2003 – The Telgi Story review
+ Gagan Dev Riar is top-notch
+ Not overly dramatic
+ Faithful recreation of the era
– Not so novel approach
– Spice-less narration
As you know, Scam 2003 – The Telgi Story is the second in the Scam tranche, the first of which was Scam 1992, the telling of the stock market scam orchestrated by Harsha Mehta in that eponymous year. That series is among the more storied ones, and Pratik Gandhi as Hrashad Mehta was simply stunning, and Hansal Mehta’s direction of a complex subject was refreshingly clear and impactful.
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In Scam 2003 – The Telgi Story, Hansal Mehta is merely the showrunner, while the direction is left to Tushar Hiranandani, who seems earnest in his approach. But that alone may not be enough to get across one of India’s biggest scams- Rs 30,000 crore worth of counterfeit stamp papers and other documents.
The cliche has it that comparisons are odious, but it is impossible not to place against each other the two Scam web series. The first one was decidedly more interesting. The second could still be —- only the first 5 episodes of the 10-episode series are streaming now. Also, the first one stirred our curiosity more, maybe because, as charlatans, Harshad Mehta was more intriguing than Abdul Karim Telgi.
Harshad bhai, before he fell as a villain in the nation’s eyes, was actually a hero to the bulk of the country’s middle class. Many still see him as a fall guy, one who was brought down by the political system. Some argue that his crime was no crime as he was merely using loopholes available in the system. Of course, it is not that simple. The man did game the stock markets. But his misdemeanours did have a lot of grey areas, and it is not easy to slot him as a straightforward bad guy.
On the other hand, Abdul Karim Tegi’s bad acts have no such redemption. His crime was counterfeiting and printing illegal papers. Heck, it is an open-and-shut case.
It is not impossible to see that Harshad Mehta’s meteoric rise lends itself to more compelling on-screen drama than Telgi’s, whose story needs more tweaks for a more engrossing script. In that sense, Tushar Hiranandani starts off on the back foot.
It is clear that he also understood this screenplay’s difficulty and hence spends much more time on how Telgi began his life as a nondescript fruit-seller in rural Karnataka before arriving in the big bad Mumbai and making his riches. The series has been adapted by Kiran Yadnopavit, Kedar Patankar and Karan Vyas from news reports and Sanjay Singh’s non-fiction book Telgi – A Reporter’s Diary.
The initial portions reveal Telgi’s desperate ambition to strike it rich. His first foray into the fake documents world is through printing illegal passports. When he lands in Mumbai, Telgi is ready to make his moves and use all the nooks and crannies available in the porous system, where money talks. Sometimes, it also goes without saying.
Telgi’s essential smartness is understanding the power of money and his ability to fix every small cog in the governmental wheel. The way he brings around the officer at the government press is revealing. Yet, this improbable rags-to-riches story of a man who later died (2016) unceremoniously through complications of AIDS needed more spice in the narration. It is mostly supplied by Gagan Dev Riar, who plays Telgi with felicity and conviction.
Looking unprepossessing and still using that to hold our attention is a top-notch skill. Gagan Dev Riar’s acting elevates the average material to a compelling category. The others in the cast, like Nandu Madhav, Talat Aziz, Sameer Dharmadhikari, Bharat Dabholkar and Kiran Karmarkar, are all efficient. But the main man steals the show and, of course, stamps his authority.