Scam 2003 The Telgi Story’ Review: Gagan Dev Riar was a master of nuance

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‘Scam 2003: The Telgi Story’ is available to watch on Sony Liv.


Movie ReviewScam 2003
CastGagan Dev Riar
Mukesh Tiwari
Sana Amin Sheikh
Bharat Jadhav
Shaad Randhawa
Directed byTushar Hiranandani
Written byKaran Vyas
Kiran Yadnyopavit
Produced bySameer Nair
Release date1 September 2023
Budget50 Crore

Scam 2003 The Telgi Story’ Review: Gagan Dev Riar was a master of nuance

Scam 2003: The Telgi Story’s protagonist Abdul Karim Telgi (Gagan Dev Riar) is introduced as a fruit seller on a train who wraps the produce in copies of his degree certificate. From that point forward, the audience gains a better understanding of this ability.

After being scouted by a guesthouse owner, he marries the man’s daughter and relocates to the Gulf to make money. However, he decides that the distance from his family is not worth it and returns to Mumbai, where he begins making counterfeit documents for people who want to work abroad. He considers himself a Robin Hood figure, claiming that he is only helping the poor. (Also See | Gadar 2 box office collection day 23: Sunny Deol’s film is on track to break the 500 crore mark, grossing $6 million on the fourth Saturday

A stint in a prison cell introduces him to a friend and business partner Kaushal (Hemang Vyas). They both decide to move into a business of counterfeiting stamp papers. Kaushal shares Telgi’s vision but not his drive.

A still from ‘Scam 2003: The Telgi Story’

Tushar Hiranandani directs Scam 2003: The Telgi Story, and Hansal Mehta, director of Scam 1992, serves as showrunner. This could explain why the latter’s allure is so apparent in the former. Scam 2003’s writing is concise and to-the-point; there is no waffling around the issue. The first few episodes, on the other hand, follow a very similar linear progression – Telgi continues to approach people whose palms he can grease in order to get his business off the ground.

A still from ‘Scam 2003: The Telgi Story’

The only difference is that as the show progresses, these palms belong to larger and larger sharks, which Telgi compares to hyenas, with himself seated on the lofty throne of the lion.

Telgi’s journey from lion to scapegoat does not captivate the audience because it is novel. Riar’s brilliant performance, on the other hand, keeps you hooked. One wonders how Telgi will overcome every obstacle, partly because Riar has captured every nuance and subtlety of the character.

A still from ‘Scam 2003: The Telgi Story’

His act sets him apart from the show’s setting, from the slight smirk when he realizes he’s been thrown under the bus to the glint in his eyes when he discovers a path to success, but he doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb.

Telgi enters, encounters resistance, makes an undeniable selling pitch, and his problem is solved. Even clever dialogue can’t keep the show from becoming monotonous after a while. Telgi’s battle of wits and perseverance against an honest manner of a Nashik-based factory that handles printing provides the only respite.

But it’s not all for naught. One of the requirements of a show like this is a little exposition – the main character, in this case Telgi, must explain some of his ideas as if the audience is 10 years old.

For this, multiple characters who require sale pitches to be sold on Telgi’s lofty promises play an important role.

Scam 2003 is an astute examination of a character like Telgi, who is blinded by ambition to the point where he laments that he is among those most affected by Mumbai’s horrific riots.

It delves into how the powerful maintain their power and attempts to satirise how the common man is almost always kept on the periphery of this power game, even when he sees himself as an unlikely ally.

A still from ‘Scam 2003: The Telgi Story’

From corrupt cops to politicians, everyone enters the fray but everyone is looking out for themselves.

It’s difficult not to draw parallels between Scam 2003 and Scam 1992, especially since the term ‘Scamverse’ has been bandied about. The latter was easily one of the best web series released that year, but the sheer amount of entertainment packed into each episode is lacking here.

Nonetheless, only five episodes of the former are currently available. There’s still some wonder to behold if the show only gets better from here.

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