Scam 2003: The Telgi Story review: Crackling, Daring and Swashbuckling!
What: My first question to Hansal Mehta - Where did you discover your protagonist Gagan Dev Riar, playing the reel version of the stamp scamstee Abdul Karim Telgi!
Scam 2003: The Telgi Story review
The actor is so immaculate in emulating the scam kingpin that it feels achingly real when his story unfolds before your eyes. A little research that I did revealed that he had acted Mira Nair's Suitable Boy, and played the husband to Rasika Dugal's character. Hats off to Mukesh Chhabra for such ingenious finds!
Scam 2003, the spiritual successor to Mehta's gamechanger Scam 1992 that had stormed the OTT space during 2020, follows the rhythm and same beats and gives us a very realized arc of Telgi from rags to riches through the murky business of counterfeiting stamps.
Working as a fruit seller in trains to meet his ends meet, Abdul's graph catapults from a low key hotel manager to a new high when he starts forging stamp papers after a short stint with making fake passports and also Saudi Arabia.
Inspired from Sanjay Singh's book, "Reporter ki Diary", Scam 2003 is a blow by blow account of the audacious moves of the flamboyant mastermind followed by complex execution, investigation, charge sheet and legal developments.
Director Tushar Hiranandani and showrunner Mehta offer a riveting and emphatic gaze on Telgi's rise and exoneration with detailed research on the subject and an unmistakable recreation of the 80s and 90s era.
Result, you get a swashbuckling crime dossier with an amazingly fleshed out protagonist who exudes sparks of daring and despair. Gagan imbues the infamous scamster with bouts of vulnerability and defiance. Telgi shocked the nation with a whopping 25000 crores counterfeiting scam that impacted more than 18 states.
In one scene, he gets badly beaten up by his close friend in a brawl of ego. The pain and agony is palpable. With an ever-growing penchant for raw and real, Mehta surrounds him with a talented ensemble - Talat Aziz, Shashank Ketkar, Mukesh Tiwari, Bharat Jadhav and others.
I go with 4 stars out of 5 for SCAM 2003 : The Telgi Story.
The series is produced by Applause Entertainment in association with StudioNEXT. The series I streaming on SonyLIV from September 01, 2023.
Ps : The review is based on the first 2 episodes.