NEW DELHI—The gritty and gripping "Sacred Games," the first original Indian mini-series by Netflix, not only has audiences binge-watching at home but is showcasing Indian talent globally even as it arouses curiosity and a positive buzz across the 190 countries where it is available on the video streaming service.
Produced by the Anil Ambani-led Reliance Entertainment's Phantom Films joint venture, "Sacred Games" is based on Vikram Chandra's eponymous novel of 2006 and premiered worldwide on Netflix on July 6. It's been directed by Vikram Motwane and Anurag Kashyap of Phantom Films.
"We are privileged to partner with Netflix in launching their first-ever original Indian mini-series. (Netflix) has demolished physical boundaries across the globe, and we are delighted to showcase Indian creative talent to their ever-increasing worldwide viewership base through the creative genius of our partners, Vikramaditya Motwane and Anurag Kashyap of Phantom Films," Reliance Entertainment Vice Chairman Amitabh Jhunjunwala said in a statement.
The miniseries, available in local languages in different markets, tells the tale of Sartaj Singh, a seasoned and cynical Mumbai police officer who is summoned one morning by an anonymous tip which promises him an opportunity to capture the powerful Ganesh Gaitonde, criminal overlord of the G-Company.
As the stakes mount and Sartaj seeks knowledge of his prey, it becomes clear that the game the two players thought they were engaged in is, in fact, part of a much larger plan, one that goes beyond their city.
The cast of the show, which shows the intricate web of organized crime, corruption, politics, and espionage in post-liberalization India, leaves a mark.
With Saif Ali Khan playing the Sikh Sartaj Singh, Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Ganesh Gaitonde, Radhika Apte as a RAW officer, and a slew of talented artistes like Neeraj Kabi, Aamir Bashir, Luke Kenny, Rajshri Deshpande, Kubbra Sait and Jatin Sarna in the supporting cast, the eight-episode show is compelling viewing.
Motwane had, in an earlier interview to IANS, said the series was like a "guinea pig" in the Indian market, and so there was pressure on them as well as on Netflix to deliver a "great show" so that more and more people watch content on the platform.
At the end of the day, it's all about "getting the eyeballs."
As feature films are available on satellite within a few months nowadays, what is their preference: Footfalls in the theatre or eyeballs on different screens – mobile or TV?
Motwane told IANS: "Whether the audience is watching it in a theatre or on TV, mobile, downloading from online, eyeballs matter to me the most."
Kashyap said: "I have been working in the film industry for 25 years. For the last 24 years, I just wished the audience watched my film wherever they wanted. Now I have finally started looking out for business too. So if the film releases in the theatre, footfall counts. If they are watching our films outside the theatre, on any platform, I am okay with it as the business format is changing now.
"What we are making for theatre is also coming on Netflix and Amazon."
And thus reaching a global audience – for the show is available in all major markets in Asia, including Japan, the US, Latin America and Europe.