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Sacred Games 2 review: Addictive and aggressive, Netflix India’s greatest show finds Nawazuddin Siddiqui in nuclear form

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Sacred Games Season 2
Cast – Saif Ali Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Pankaj Tripathi, Kalki Koechlin, Ranvir Shorey
Rating – 4.5/5 

Unfolding like a pulpy retelling of a mythological epic, Netflix’s Sacred Games season 2 is a more complex experience than the first, without ever compromising on the populism that made it such a phenomenon in the first place. It is dense without ever feeling overwhelming, controversial but never sleazy; a thoroughly entertaining example of a television series operating at the peak of its potential.

Three episodes of Sacred Games 2 were provided for preview and this should be read as a review of those three episodes only.

Watch the Sacred Games season 2 trailer here 

Sacred Games, right out of the gate, returns with a swagger that could put even Ganesh Gaitonde to shame – a sign of confidence for a show that is equally adept at ‘dialoguebaazi’ as it is at quoting the Epic of Gilgamesh. There is, in fact, a scene that combines both, and perfectly captures the essence of season two.

“What do we learn from Gilgamesh?” Kalki Koechlin’s character asks a bunch of devotees. Met not with raised hands but with devout silence, Kalki proceeds to answer her own question. “The pursuit of power and control is as futile as the pursuit of immortality.” Her manner isn’t all that different from that of her former mentor, Pankaj Tripathi’s Guruji, who speaks with the mellifluous musicality of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, peppering his sermons with the occasional smutty word.

There is, of course, a reason why the show invoking the Epic of Gilgamesh. In addition to being perhaps the oldest surviving work of literature, whose themes are just as relevant today as they were thousands of years ago, it is also a giant metaphor for the journey on which the formidable gangster Ganesh Gaitonde finds himself.

When we saw him last, he was breaking out of a jail. Having suffered terribly during his stay, he emerges into the sunlight in the first episode of Sacred Games 2, lit by the fire of revenge. The new season finds Gaitonde in direct confrontation with his own legend, having come to the crippling realisation that he isn’t the ‘sarva shaktishaali eklauta bhagwan’ that he thought he was.

He is stripped of his power; his vast empire, built off the back of violence and vengeance, has been wrenched from his hands. But most distressingly for him, he has been uprooted from his beloved Bombay and sent to the faraway shores of Mombasa, Kenya, with not even his buddy Bunty by his side.

This is one of the many examples of how showrunner Vikramaditya Motwane is continuing the process of deviating from the text, perhaps in preparation of a future in which he doesn’t have Vikram Chandra’s source novel to draw from. In the book, Gaitonde literally finds himself at sea.

It is in Kenya that the always agnostic Gaitonde is offered his first whiff of faith. Of course, he is no stranger to the divisive power of religion – like season one, fear-mongering is an important theme this time around as well – but this is certainly the first time he is seeing religion through the prism of a vulnerable man, looking, like everyone else, for a crutch to rely upon. And like any spiritual leader worth his salt, Guruji lures him into his world like a saucy seductress beckoning a bereaved businessman.

Meanwhile, a lifetime away, Saif Ali Khan’s Sartaj Singh is still trying to solve the mystery that Gaitonde has left behind. Both men, divided as they are by duty, are alike in ways neither would like to admit; their journeys converging at the feet of the same man, and his consiglieri.

She’s called Batya Abelman, and is played by the always excellent Kalki Koechlin. She’s an enigmatic woman who appears in both the Gaitonde and the Sartaj timelines, and is another of Motwane’s additions, not to be found in the book, neither in flesh nor as a facsimile. While on paper she is to Guruji what Maa Anand Sheela was to Rajneesh, there is perhaps more to her than meets the eye.

As with season one, everyone involved seems to be united by a shared passion for the project. And while it may be easy to be distracted by the sheer power of Nawazuddin Siddiqui, I must remind you that were it not for Saif Ali Khan’s generous performance as the rather passive Sartaj – he is, once again, more often than not compelled into action rather than driven by a desire to take the bull by its horns – neither Gaitonde nor Guruji would pop as wonderfully as they do. As an actor, Saif is keenly aware of the role Sartaj plays in the story, and shows no hesitation in surrendering himself fully to it.

But the unheralded champion of this enterprise, I believe, is editor Aarti Bajaj. Her seamless storytelling genuinely made me rethink how television is made – it is a rather unconventional strategy for two directors to tackle two different storylines, hoping that what they turn in can be blended into a whole, but Bajaj makes it seem like it should, in fact, be the norm.

It must also be mentioned that a behind-the-scenes switcheroo has been performed as discreetly as hotel staff cleaning up a room after a particularly eventful evening. Director Neeraj Ghaywan, who made one of the greatest debuts of the decade with Masaan, has replaced Motwane in the director’s chair this time around, and has brought with himself a style that is in line with the broader vision, and yet fiercely individualistic. A complicated chase scene that he directs is so spectacularly staged that I couldn’t help but rewind it and watch again.

Meanwhile, Ghaywan’s co-director Anurag Kashyap, is clearly in his element, and yet unafraid of pushing himself out of his comfort zone. His handling of the Gaitonde timeline is replete with his knack for producing high-art masala. There is an odd elegance to his images, a major leap from his trademark slapdash style.

The second season of Sacred Games is a perceptive examination of how individuals work within organisations; of how everyone, regardless of their position, is in some manner or the other controlled by someone else. It is about the banality of evil and the power of religion, and how, brought together, they can produce a chemical reaction of nuclear proportions.

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Frozen 2: Priyanka Chopra, Parineeti Chopra to voice Elsa and Anna in Hindi

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Actors and cousins Priyanka Chopra and Parineeti Chopra are working together for the first time on the Hollywood film Frozen 2. After Aishwarya Rai dubbed for Angelina Jolies’s Maleficent, the Chopra sisters will voice the characters of Elsa and Anna in the Hindi version of Frozen 2.

Making the announcement on social media, Priyanka wrote, “Mimi & Tisha are now Elsa & Anna! The #ChopraSisters are finally coming together for Disney’s #Frozen2. Can’t wait for you guys to see us…I mean HEAR us bring these amazing, strong characters to life in Hindi. In cinemas Nov 22.”

Their fans were elated to hear the good news. A fan wrote, “well i have no choice but to watch it in hindi then!” Another commented, “Chopra sisters ruling the world..” One more fans asked them, “Drop the trailer ladies.”

Frozen 2 is the sequel of the 2013 original. The second part of the hit franchise promises to be more intense as it traces the past of Princesses Anna and Elsa, essayed by Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel, respectively, and piece together their present. Wood and Brown have a role to play in solving this mystery.

Actors Sterling K Brown and Evan Rachel Wood have also joined the cast in the new film. Wood will play Anna and Elsa’s mother Queen Iduna, while Brown will play Lieutenant Matthias.

Directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, who is also chief creative officer at Walt Disney Animation Studios, opened up about Frozen 2 at the D23 Expo here in August, saying the film will answer questions like “why does Elsa have powers, but Anna doesn’t?”, “Where did Elsa get her powers?” and “Where were Anna and Elsa’s parents going when they died?”

Wood’s Queen Iduna avatar will be seen in flashback moments in the film, with her singing a lullaby to her daughters. Brown as Lieutenant Matthias, the leader of a group of Arendelle soldiers, who have been trapped for 30 years in the enchanted forest, appears in the present.

Buck said: “We can’t tell you whether they solve the mystery of the past or whether Elsa ever finds the answers about her powers, but we can tell you that Frozen 2 is even bigger and more epic, but most importantly, in the end Frozen 1 and Frozen 2 work together to form one complete story.”

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Kareena Kapoor says son Taimur considers paparazzi his friends but refuses to be clicked by her

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Actor Kareena Kapoor spoke to filmmaker Karan Johar during a pre-Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival Star 2019 event in Mumbai on Sunday. During the course of the conversation, Kareena revealed how her son Taimur Ali Khan doesn’t like it when she takes pictures of him.

Talking about it, she mentioned, “He thinks paps are his friends. But when I want to take his photo, he says ‘Amma, no pictures’.” Karan immediately chimed in, “Taimur thinks you are Viral Bhayani,” much to everyone’s amusement. She also revealed how the paparazzi, by and large, have been polite. She added how Saif does get a little irritated and tells them so and they usually stop.

Watch Kareena Kapoor talk about her son, Taimur Ali Khan

Kareena, Karan and Alia Bhatt spoke on a number of other issues, with one being on the lack of pay parity between male and female stars. When asked if she has ever walked out of a film because she was getting paid less, Kareena had said, “There were probably different reasons of walking out of films, but not because of this particular reason. I’d love to get paid as much as my male co-stars though.”

In fact, in the course of the conversation, Kareena had joked, “Please pay me as much as you paid Akshay Kumar, I’ll run out of MAMI!”

Karan, of course, chose to give a complex understanding of how movie business works to explain pay disparity. He explained how the economics of movies is “lesser known by people who don’t understand the business and how it functions”.

Kareena will be seen next in Karan’s home production, Good News, alongside Akshay Kumar, Diljit Dosanjh and Kiara Advani. The comedy is themed around a couple desperately trying for a baby. She will also be seen in Angrezi Medium, a sequel to the hit 2017 film, Hindi Medium, starring Irrfan Khan. The new film will mark Irrfan’s return to films after getting treated for cancer.

Early next year, she will begin shooting for Takht, a Karan Johar directorial, which includes an ensemble cast with Ranveer Singh, Vicky Kaushal, Alia, Janhvi Kapoor, Bhumi Pednekar and Anil Kapoor doing the honors.

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Pati Patni Aur Woh posters: Kartik Aaryan is Kanpur’s model husband, see pic

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Kartik Aaryan’s bouffant-style hair is combed down, the on-point fashion tees have been replaced by staid checks and brown trousers, and he is on a beat-up bike. He is the ‘adarshwadi’ pati in Pati Patni Aur Woh, the 2019 retread of Sanjev Kumar-Ranjita-Vidya Balan classic.

Going as Chintu Tyagi, he is Kanpur’s ‘most adarshwadi pati’ in the first poster of Pati, Patni Aur Woh. “Lijiye khatam ho gaya intezaar, aa gaye halaat ke shikar,” reads the inscription of the poster, describing Chintu as a ‘victim of circumstances’.

Actor Anil Kapoor was among the first to comment on the poster, writing, “Chintu Tyagi definitely looks like he’s up to something! Waiting to meet his Patni aur Woh now!” The film has Bhumi Pednekar in the role of Kartik’s wife and Ananya Pandey as the ‘woh’ of the film.

Kartik will be reuniting with his Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 and Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety co-star Sunny Singh for the film. Kartik shared the news on social media, “Sonu ke Titu aa rahe hain #ChintuTyagi se milne.. ‘Pati Patni Aur Woh’ mein. (Sonu’s Titu is coming to meet Chunti Tyagi in ‘Pati Patni Aur Woh’).” His Luka Chuppi co-star Kriti Sanon also has a special role in the film.

An adaptation of the 1978 hit, Pati, Patni Aur Woh is directed by Mudassar Aziz, who has previously directed Dulha Mil Gaya, Happy Bhag Jayegi and Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi. The original was about Ranjeet (Sanjeev), a married man with a son who has a soft corner for his secretary Nirmala (Ranjeeta).

The film will be produced by Bhushan Kumar of T-Series and Abhay Chopra and Juno Chopra of BR Studios. “Juno, Abhay and Mudassar have given an interesting tweak to the story that matches today’s times. Kartik, Bhumi and Ananya are new age actors who are talented and add their spark to the story,” Bhushan said in a statement earlier.

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