Is 'Sacred Games' India's answer to 'Narcos'?

Netflix’s first Indian venture, Sacred Games is anchored by Bollywood star Saif Ali Khan as a policeman with 25 days to head off a terrorist threat to Mumbai. It is directed by Bollywood veteran Anurag Kashyap and also stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Radhika Apte in pertinent roles.

Sacred Games outlines the life of a police officer, Sartaj Singh, tipped by an anonymous call one morning promising him an opportunity to capture the powerful criminal Ganesh Gaitonde.


As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that there is a lot more at stake in the game than initially seemed.

However, critics and fans are comparing Sacred Games to one of Netflix’s most famous series, Narcos, reported Hindustan Times.

Narcos told a tale of Colombian drug lord, Pablo Escobar. The series later transitions to focus on other drug cartels, once Escobar was killed by the DEA.

“Netflix has chosen a production from the same genre as a previous success, the American-Colombian Narcos,” said Mike Hale in his review for the New York Times. “While Sacred Games is a fair approximation of the kind of multigenerational, lightly fantastical Asian, African or South American novel that routinely lands on American best-seller lists, its picaresque, expansive storytelling and literary flavour are not what American audiences are used to in a crime series,” he added.


The Hollywood Reporter’s review read, “If Sacred Games can get even a fraction of the available Indian market hooked on its small-screen storytelling, that alone will validate Netflix’s expansion plans. But the bigger goal might be a Narcos-like play to an open-minded international audience that wants to see something familiar but foreign at the same time.”

The Daily Express’ review also lauded Kayshap’s strong hold on story-telling, hoping for more of the same to be produced. “They’ve juxtaposed the grit and the glamour of Mumbai to create a new genre that is quickly being termed Bollywood Noir, unsurprisingly Sacred Games is already garnering comparisons to fellow Netflix mafia drama Narcos.”


The review also praised Siddiqui for his stellar perfomrance as Gidtonde. “Siddiqui is superb as Gaitonde, who is one of the best TV villains for a while and is an anti-hero that you’re rooting for even though he’s a cold-blooded killer,” the review read.


Funnyman, Daniel Fernandez pens down his review in a tweet. He wrote, “May I be bold enough to say that Sacred Games is on par with Narcos? Can’t wait to see how the world receives it.”

Pablo Escobar is played by actor Wagner Moura, who bows out of the show towards the end of season two. PHOTO: FILE

“Just finished watching Netflix India’s Sacred Games. Pleasantly surprised. Thought it would be a bullshit Bollywood show but actually felt like a western show. Has a Narcos vibe to it but really looking forward to Season 2,” wrote a Twitter user.

Well, isn’t this description of the thriller apt? “If Gangs of Wasseypur and Narcos had a baby, it would be called Sacred Games,” said another user.

Several critics have wondered if Sacred Games can go on to have the international appeal of some of the other shows on the streaming service. Like Narcos, Sacred Games also tells the story of a gangster’s rise. In the show, Siddiqui’s Gaitonde juxtaposes his personal struggles to the history of modern India.

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