I entered Scam 1992 with the thought that it is yet another fictionalised account of a man who literally took the stock market by storm. Not that I doubted Hansal Mehta, but the current crop of fictionalised real-life stories has created an impression. On the contrary, I am thankful to Hansal for what he has created and a salute to his detailing skills. Scam 1992 is a classic example of what authenticity and objective film making means. If that isn’t your concern, it is an exploration of a man who carried out the biggest scam in India ever and how for him it was just another thing.
Cast: Pratik Gandhi, Shreya Dhanwanthary, Sharib Hashmi, Ananth Mahadevan and more.
Based on Debashis Basu & Sucheta Dalal’s (who both are characters in the show) book ‘The Scam’, Sony LIV‘s newest offering follows Harshad Mehta. A man who needs no introduction. It traces his journey from the time his incepted owning the Bombay Stock Exchange, till the date he was behind bars for carrying out a scam one cannot even imagine. It involved 500 crores, that too back in the ’90s. Yes, imagine the magnitude. How ironical is the fact that ‘The Bull Of Dalal Street’, was busted by a journalist whose second name was Dalal.
Scam 1992 Review: What Works?
The Harshad Mehta scam story has all the elements for being a perfect drama. And over the years it has attracted many filmmakers. In recent times, we already have 3 projects on the same story. One is Scam 1992; other is Abhishek Bachchan starrer The Big Bull and the third is an Ullu series The Bull Of Dalal Street. The thirds one, I doubt we should even consider. But Okay!
So, my point here is, what difference does Hansal Mehta’s version of this story makes (I know I haven’t seen Abhishek Bachchan’s The Big Bull yet). The answer is attention to detail. Many articles claim that Hansal has researched 3 years for the show, and it is quite visible. The complete timeline, events, incidents, and people are ones we have heard about and read over the years.
This brings me to one of the best aspects and a fresh one. Neither the filmmaker nor his team has shied away from naming the real-life people. Remember URI: The Surgical Strike, How lookalikes of all the ministers weren’t named even once? Hansal Mehta impressed me in that counter. Be it RK Laxman just strolling in the Times Of India Office, or Lawyer Ram Jethmalani revealing Harshad Mehta’s alleged secret financial connections with then PM P.V. Narasimha Rao. The makers don’t hesitate to show the most delicate of the details.
The tonality of the show is very much like a documentary, with the reel Sucheta Dalal’s voice explaining the effect of the events in the background. It is one of those rare shows where the primary layer is the only thing to hook on, and the writing does wonders here. We go into the complexities the ‘scam’ had created not just for Harshad, but the world around him.
A big chunk of credit to Sucheta and Debashis, Hansal Mehta and his team Sumeet Purohit Vaibhav Vishal and Karan Vyas write this universe most objectively. Not for once does the show takes sides. It’s a story that they tell and makes us as the audience sit on the spot to decide. The gaze is Sucheta’s, so it shows how she saw Harshad at different points. He is never shown sympathy or put on a pedestal. So to so, they make sure no Stalk Holme Syndrome is activated at any moment.
The acting performances are as good as they get. Shout out to casting director Mukesh Chhabra for not falling into the trap of casting lookalikes. The reel Harshad Mehta Pratik Gandhi is nowhere similar to the real-life man in terms of appearance. Gandhi has understood the character entirely; it is no longer an out of body experience for him. Shreya Dhanwanthary’s Sucheta is one of the best portrayals of a journalist I have seen in recent times.
The key to relatability in Scam 1992 lies in its simplicity. Everything from the acting, to the sets, the cinematography is subtle, nothing overdone but are in the most appropriate quantities.
PS: RK Laxman walking around the Times office and saying ‘I am a common man’ had me smile wide. Such sweet moments in a show! Also, when Debashis said the BSE lane has the best sandwiches in the city, I was craving for one.
Scam 1992 Review: What Doesn’t Work:
For Scam 1992, this section is subjective. As said, Hansal has dug his teeth deep into the subject. This has led to a very technical and detailed outcome. While it is a victory, the numbers and the share market happenings may be alien zone for a lot of viewers. It will take at least 2 episodes to get into the groove with the show.
Talking about the storyline, we see Harshad Mehta rising to the top and how he reaches there. But as an audience, I would have liked to see him a bit more while he marinated in the glory. The Internet has many fascinating stories about how he used his grandeur; they might have made for a good watch.
Scam 1992 Review: Last Words:
You must go in for Applause Entertainment’s Scam 1992 for its objective approach. Educate yourself about an event in our history that impacted numerous lives. If not that, watch it just like a heist and wrap your head around the fact that a single man did all of this. The show is streaming on Sony LIV.