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Scam 1992 Review: The Harshad Mehta Story is a Salute to Bombay's Indomitable Spirit

Still from 'Scam 1992'

Still from 'Scam 1992'

'Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story' does not pronounce guilty verdict on India's first financial sector scamster, but presents us with a morally dubious character and leaves it our sensibilities whether to make him a messiah or a pariah.

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Devasheesh Pandey

Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story

Cast: Pratik Gandhi, Shreya Dhanwanthary, Anant Mahadevan, Rajat Kapoor, Hemant Kher

Director: Hansal Mehta

Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story traverses highs and lows in the life of a promising entrepreneur who would later introduce the word scam to the public of India. Directed by Hansal Mehta, the 10-part series is slow paced at 50-minutes per episode run and takes its time to grow on you. But the innumerable dramatic turns, like the ones encountered by investors in stock market on daily basis, are thoroughly enjoyable and make the latest Sony LIV original series a riveting yet eye-opening watch.

Pratik Gandhi plays Harshad through the early 80s and 90s. While the advanced technological means available to us today were scant then, the ambition to make surplus money was stoking Harshad's sharp mind and many of his kind. Initially, we see the Mehta family of five living in a rented chawl. Harshad and Ashwin (Hemant Kher) aspire to make it big in the city of dreams and take a plunge in trading stocks. As years pass by, one realises that through their intelligence and street smart ways, the 'outsider' Mehta brothers would meet eye-to-eye with India's biggest businesses and their owners and trample down on some of them on the way to top.

In showing Harshad's life, Scam 1992 does not paint a target on his back nor does it make him out to be a messiah of the middle class. It does the balancing act nicely and leaves it to us on which facet of Harshad to rely on or take cues from. Judgements are kept away as director Hansal Mehta and his camera become observers and facilitators to the country's most exciting and controversial market trade personality.

Apart from the real life of a risk-it-all stock broker and his maverick, unorthodox ways, the most ingenious part of Scam 1992 is its casting. The ensemble is like a bouquet of carefully selected flowers which add the essence of novelty and realism to this dramatic story. While Pratik leads the pack with his suave and confident play act, others compliment him in every way possible. Rajat Kapoor and Satish Kaushik's extended cameos add comic relief to this rather serious series.

A stern look into the 'Harshad Mehta Scam' has been presented though the voice and character of Sucheta Dalal (Shreya Dhanwanthary), a feisty financial journalist, who would also co-write The Scam: Who Won, Who Lost, Who Got Away, from which the series is adapted for web. In a man's world's, where rules only exist in books and no one plays by them, Sucheta makes sure that both her voice and exposé don't go unnoticed. Shreya has played the role with utmost sincerity and imparts an objective view on corrupt institutions and palm-greasing businessmen, who crook their way to the top echelons of power.

Initially, Scam 1992 may seem like a socialist story of taking back power from the resourceful and re-distributing it amongst the public, where it emerges from and rightfully belongs. Caution, it comes out to be far from that. Rather, it captures the spirit of Bombay beautifully, which is that the city does not slumber even at night and rises like a phoenix from its ashes.

Rating: 3.5/5


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