Sacred Games 2 about religious fanaticism

Sacred Games 2 about religious fanaticism

Though it doesn’t live up to the standards set by the first season, it knows a lot about how Indian politicians and extremists think

The second season of Netflix’s Sacred Games is just as tepid and mirthless as the final instalment of HBO’s Game of Thrones. When the Netflix original hit the streaming platform last year, there were fireworks everywhere.

The show was compared with a big Bollywood film as actors like Saif Ali Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and Radhika Apte were in the cast. Now, with the introduction of new characters (hence new cast: Kalki Koechlin and Ranvir Shorey) and a change in the rhythm of the writing, the series finds itself in a quandary and plumbs abyssal depths.

However, I stationed my eyes on the most important topic in the latest season – religious extremism. There are many in Hinduism and Islam who fervently believe their path is the only righteous one to get the Indian subcontinent up on its feet. While the Hindus want the country to rid itself of its secular tag and become a Hindu Rashtra, the Muslims want to live only with their brethren by waging Ghazwa-e-Hind (the battle for Hindustan).

These facets are presented through two examples: One, where the Hindu extremists taunt a Muslim (named Saad, played by Chetan Sharma) by yelling “Aurangzeb” at him during a cricket match; two, where Muslim extremists are involved in a murky plan to wage nuclear war against India.

Let me spill the beans on the Aurangzeb bit first.

A game of cricket played by young adults usually includes fun, learning, and some childish arguments. But for Saad, it also means getting verbally attacked for being a Muslim. In one such incident, he loses his cool and thrashes his abuser with a wicket. This enrages the predominant Hindu players. Saad goes missing soon; so, Sartaj Singh (Saif Ali Khan) and Kamble (Suhas Sirsat) land up at Kushal’s (Amey Wagh) house to look into the case.

Kushal, with whom Saad last played cricket, belongs to an influential Hindu family. He says, “This has become a country of foreigners and there is no room for Hindus in Hindustan. Historically, first the Mughals came when we were fighting among ourselves. Then the Britishers came, and we got divided into class and caste. We got another opportunity during the Partition, but we chose non-violent protest! Look at them (Muslims), they’ve been at it for 2,000 years and we are stuck electing governments to give us better petrol prices.”

You can understand the extent of his disgust towards Muslims, for he seems to have graduated in bigotry from WhatsApp University. When Sartaj interrupts Kushal’s flow of words by saying Islam has existed for 1,400 years, and not 2,000, the latter stiffens up.

Kushal knows that Sartaj and his ilk can’t put him behind bars because of the power his family wields in Mumbai. He quickly sends the cops out with an inconclusive reply and moves to a room where Saad is tied to a pole. Make no mistake, Saad is being tortured for not respecting ‘Hindus in Hindustan’.

Later, in another episode, Saad is lynched by a mob headed by Kushal, in full public-view, apparently as a form of punishment. The heinous act is cheered by more than three dozen young men. They all want a piece of Saad. And when Sartaj runs to protect the dazed Muslim man, he gets beaten black-and-blue. How many men can a daredevil cop handle at a time? He’s not a superhero, after all!

Somewhere else, Shahid Khan, the Muslim extremist given the task of masterminding the nuclear attack, says, “The bomb that crashed into Hiroshima was 15 kilotons. This one is 120 kilotons; that’s eight times stronger. It’ll wipe out eight lakh Indians in the first hour. Plus, the next eight generations of Indians will come out decayed and rotten.”

Discussing the plan with his associates, he declares, “We’ll pay off the debts of 1965, 1971, and 1999 in one shot.”

Sacred Games 2, for a host of reasons, is unable to live up to the standards set by its first season. But its writers and directors know well the dangerous agendas followed by Indian politicians and extremists. They don’t disappoint there: frenzied idiocy cuts across religious lines.