‘Sacred Games:’ India’s gritty Netflix series debut

Netflix's first Indian original series made its debut on Friday, the first of a slate of new shows aimed at the vast Bollywood entertainment market. (Photo courtesy: Netflix)
Updated 08 July 2018
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‘Sacred Games:’ India’s gritty Netflix series debut

CHENNAI: Netflix’s first Indian original series made its debut on Friday, the first of a slate of new shows aimed at the vast Bollywood entertainment market. “Sacred Games,” based on the 2006 novel by Vikram Chandra, is a thriller set in Mumbai with a cast of police officers, politicians and spies, and stars some of Bollywood’s biggest personalities, including Saif Ali Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Radhika Apte.

The movie is a full of gangsters, prostitutes, corrupt policemen, inter-religious animosity and terror all bathed in blood and gore. Helmed by Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane, the series unfolds in 2004 and avoids the minutiae of the literary work while retaining its spirit. Crafted with a touch of brilliance, superbly suspenseful and terrifically thrilling, the eight-hour-long film is divided into six episodes in season one.

What “Sacred Games” loses out on in terms of storyline novelty is made up for by riveting performances. As Inspector Sartaj Singh, Khan portrays a man in a dilemma and conveys pained restlessness after he gets a call from one of the city’s most dreaded dons, Ganesh Gaitonde (Siddiqui). Gaitonde tells Singh that he knew his father, an honest cop, and then shoots himself, but not before warning him that Mumbai will be destroyed in 25 days.

The clock begins its ominous ticking, its pendulum swinging between Singh’s own troubled present and the mysterious message from the crime boss, whose murderous tendencies and rise as a crime lord play out against India’s tumultuous political and social events.

A strong critique of the nation’s growing fundamentalism, the narrative is pushed forward by a diverse group of motley characters — Anjali Mathur, an upright officer in India’s Research and Analysis Wing, is portrayed by actor Radhika Apte with all the seriousness the role deserves, while the crime boss’s adoring wife, Subhadra (Rajshri Despande), knocks a bit of sense into her brutish husband and a senior policeman, Parulkar (Neeraj Kabi), fights the tsunami of temptations.
While the many characters give the story depth, it does make the narrative difficult to follow as the back and forth, racy style could leave viewers rushed off their feet.


Hawking’s final book offers brief answers to big questions

Updated 15 October 2018
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Hawking’s final book offers brief answers to big questions

  • Hawking was forever being asked the same things and started work on “Brief Answers to the Big Questions” last year before he died
  • “He was regularly asked a set of questions,” his daughter Lucy Hawking said

LONDON: Stephen Hawking’s final work, which tackles issues from the existence of God to the potential for time travel, was launched on Monday by his children, who helped complete the book after the British astrophysics giant’s death.
Hawking was forever being asked the same things and started work on “Brief Answers to the Big Questions” last year — but did not finish it before he died in March, aged 76.
It has been completed by the theoretical physicist’s family and academic colleagues, with material drawn from his vast personal archive.
“He was regularly asked a set of questions,” his daughter Lucy Hawking said at the Science Museum in London.
The book was an attempt to “bring together the most definitive, clearest, most authentic answers that he gave.
“We all just wish he has here to see it.”
Hawking, who was wheelchair bound due to motor neurone disease, dedicated his life’s work to unraveling the mysteries of the universe.
The cosmologist was propelled to stardom by his 1988 book “A Brief History of Time,” an unlikely worldwide bestseller.
It won over fans from far beyond the rarefied world of astrophysics and prompted people into asking the mastermind his thoughts on broader topics, answered in his final work.

The 10 questions Hawking tackles are:
-- Is there a God?
-- How did it all begin?
-- What is inside a black hole?
-- Can we predict the future?
-- Is time travel possible?
-- Will we survive on Earth?
-- Is there other intelligent life in the universe?
-- Should we colonize space?
-- Will artificial intelligence outsmart us?
-- How do we shape the future?


In his book, Hawking says humans have no option but to leave Earth, risking being “annihilated” if they do not.
He says computers will overtake humans in intelligence during the next 100 years, but “we will need to ensure that the computers have goals aligned with ours.”
Hawking says the human race had to improve its mental and physical qualities, but a genetically-modified race of superhumans, say with greater memory and disease resistance, would imperil the others.
He says that by the time people realize what is happening with climate change, it may be too late.
Hawking says the simplest explanation is that God does not exist and there is no reliable evidence for an afterlife, though people could live on through their influence and genes.
He says that in the next 50 years, we will come to understand how life began and possibly discover whether life exists elsewhere in the universe.
“He was deeply worried that at a time when the challenges are global, we were becoming increasingly local in our thinking,” Lucy Hawking said.
“It’s a call to unity, to humanity, to bring ourselves back together and really face up to the challenges in front of us.”
In his final academic paper, Hawking shed new light on black holes and the information paradox, with new work calculating the entropy of black holes.
Turned into an animation narrated by Hawking’s artificial voice, it was shown at the book launch.
“It was very emotional. I turned away because I had tears forming,” Lucy Hawking told AFP on hearing her father’s voice again.
“It feels sometimes like he’s still here because we talk about him and hear his voice — and then we have the reminder that he’s left us.”