Ah, “Sacred Games”. The intelligentsia will not stop talking about it. Many of our Old Monk-chugging friends will say that this is the way a TV series should be made. Others might even start a ‘Causes’ page to make Anurag Kashyap, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Vikramaditya Motwane the triumvirate of Indian noir filmmaking. It is that good – and like “Inside Edge”, it will change the way the Indian film industry sees the online streaming scene. There will be reviews, and you are free to read them – but this is not a review of “Sacred Games”. Instead, it is a discussion on the language of sexual intercourse and the various undercurrents that the directors bring with it.
Indian cinema audiences, on the whole, are still voyeuristic virgins. Many of them have seen only two types of intercourse on screen – the fun, passionate, superbly edited ones in what passes as a family film, and the gut-wrenching, shying-away-from-the-real-deal sexual assault sequences in a U/A film. Directors can cry themselves hoarse that ‘that’ scene was needed in ‘that’ film, but how does a coitus scene change the fact that the girl’s pregnant the next day?
Till about 3 am this morning, I maintained that sexual intercourse scenes are unnecessary in Bollywood films. Today, after watching “Sacred Games”, I can say that with the right director, the right script, the right characters and actors, sexual sequences can really take the story ahead and unravel facets within minutes. Because, hot damn, the sexual sequences in “Sacred Games”.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui plays Ganesh Gaitonde, a gangster who becomes uber-famous and deadly. Of course, Nawaz plays the role with an enthusiasm that’s rarely seen in the actors of today, and Saif Ali Khan essentially ‘unstars’ himself for this series. It is nice to see a celeb humbling himself to become an actor for a role that can change his life forever. Both characters are superbly written and portrayed on screen. While emotions are strewn all about, it’s interesting to see how the scriptwriters have used sexuality to create the characters.
The sexual sequences in “Sacred Games” will be embarrassing to the well-heeled crowd, those boys who are yet to evolve from a Pop Tates to an Olive Garden mentality, and to finally the ‘your place or mine’ phase. In “Sacred Games”, there’s no sexual intercourse – there’s only passionate sex bordering on assault.
Ganesh Gaitonde doesn’t ask ‘your place or mine’. Everyone he has intercourse with is welcome on his creaky, king-sized, non-branded bed. The way he enacts the scene is embarrassing to an entire generation of people who are paying through their nose to get that six-pack, buy good underwear, do that and do this to look a certain way during sex. Here, Ganesh Gaitonde doesn’t even begin to strip – he literally holds the hem of his lungi between his teeth while doing the deed.
It’s not just Gaitonde, most of the characters have a ladder that preps them up in the form of a sexual relationship or a connotation. There’s this woman who marries a gangster and evolves from a docile, submissive wife to a feisty lover and finally, to a would-have-been confidante. She changes from a stuttering, stammering woman to a woman who is confident and ready to give it back – just because her gangster husband is suffering from temporary impotency.
It’s fascinating how this story is woven, and then there are the connotations. The series is littered with cuss words, but the one that hits the most is spat out by one of the gangsters to define Radhika Apte’s character (she plays a RAW agent). Seriously, the only foreign object that goes inside her all through the series is 9 mm lead. But then, that’s the mental violence that the series maker wanted to show the audience – it isn’t about whether she is what they called her or not, what matters is what one thinks of her.
Whatever “Sacred Games” has succeeded in, it has also succeeded in opening a whole new valve that will now normalise sexual intercourse – and that’s always a good thing.