As we met with the team of Netflix’s Sacred Games — showrunners Vikramaditya Motwane, Anurag Kashyap, Radhika Apte and Nawazuddin Siddiqui — in a Delhi hotel, one could sense the prep they were armed with. It’s been a week of hectic promotions after all, and practice is known to make people perfect. Between rounds of coffee and steamed vegetables – Anurag Kashyap’s chosen healthy snack — the cast and crew discussed what went into adapting Vikram Chandra’s novel of the same name. “I think now I can act. I try and answer all questions, in a different mode and tone, and also interest. That’s my improv,” said Motwane. Kashyap spoke of Radhika Apte’s acting skills. “I am so comfortable with Radhika. She is everything rolled into one — sibling, mother, daughter. I feel I can make her do anything as an actor, the same way I think I can make Nawaz (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) do anything on screen,” he said.
In this saga of crime and politics, Kashyap directed the parts of the show which centred around Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who plays Ganesh Gaitonde, and Motwane directed the ones with Saif Ali Khan, who portrays Sartaj Singh, a Sikh cop. Apte plays Anjali Mathur, a RAW analyst. “Radhika refused to work with me. She chose to work with Vikram, who is this young good looking guy, whom every girl has a crush on,” said Kashyap, with a laugh.
Apte clarified. “I auditioned for this role. I was cast before Anurag was slated to direct the other part. But over time I became so engrossed and greedy with this story that I wanted to play all the roles. I once told Vikram (Motwane) that just let me do those scenes, don’t use them in the final edit. But I love the fact that she (Anjali Mathur) is so not noticeable in the series. She has to blend in because that’s what RAW agents are trained to do. There was this one scene where she has scored a big victory, but she only indulges in a gratified look for one second, that too when no one can see her. When she turns to face the rest of her team, she is poker-faced,” said Apte.
The collaborative effort between Motwane and Kashyap is something that the two had been talking about for a while. “He (Kashyap) is someone I trust implicitly. We have worked together and we have had these stupid ideas ki pehla half main direct karta hun, baaki aadha tum karo. And then this came along and I suggested that I should direct the Sartaj parts and he can do the ones with Gaitonde. And it worked. Nobody, even internationally, has tried something like this before,” said Motwane.
Sacred Games is what feels like Siddiqui’s umpteenth portrayal of an intense character from the underworld — McMafia, Raman Raghav were in similar territory. “I don’t think I am repeating myself, or even the characters. We misuse the word repetition. There are actors, who are offered different roles, and yet you can only see them — the actor in it and not the character. I think my portrayal of Dilly (McMafia) is quite different than that of Gaitonde. Gaitonde is so layered, his backstory is a big factor in his complexity,” said Siddiqui.
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“The bar was set so high by Vikram as he directed the first episode. I had to work backward from that. I had to sustain that character and the intensity right until the last shot,” said Kashyap.
For now, they all have their fingers crossed. Who knows there might just be a Season 2.