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Mumbai Mafia : Police Vs The Underworld

Farhad Dalal
By-
Farhad Dalal
Rating
3.5 Star popcorn reviewss

Introduction

Onto the next release of the weekend and I have finished watching the new Netflix Documentary Mumbai Mafia – Police Vs The Underworld. No other OTT platforms do provide a variety when it comes to documentaries. It is only Netflix which has been ruling the roosts when it comes to documentaries so much so that it prompts the viewers to witness the real life incidents like stories in itself. Even on the Indian front, the Netflix original documentaries are path breaking. Who would be able to forget the nightmarish documentary The Burari Deaths or even the recently released Indian Predator franchise(wherein atleast a couple from the franchise stood out). And so I was really curious to watch Mumbai Mafia – Police Vs The Underworld, particularly because there have been multiple Bollywood films that have been made on such stray incidents and I really wished to get more insight into some particular cases with a first hand experience. So then is Mumbai Mafia – Police Vs The Underworld worth your time, lets find out.

Story & Screenplay

Mumbai Mafia – Police Vs The Underworld follows the story behind the encounters of gangsters across the bygone era where the argument is presented even from the point of view of fake encounters. The screenplay standing at a shade under 90 minutes does make for a brisk watch.

One of the biggest strengths of the series is that it has been edited such that there is something happening onscreen at any given point of time. The frames keep changing after 3 seconds that prompts the user to be on their toes and keep pace with the narration. The incidents that are being addressed in this documentary aren’t entirely new. In fact there is a Bollywood film already made on each of the incidents here, be it Shoot Out At Lokhandwala or Ab Tak Chhappan or even Black Friday. While the Bollywood versions may have been fictionalized for the silverscreen, the first hand experience featuring actual people involved, definitely does add weight to this documentary.

The documentary is a compelling watch in many ways which does take you on a trip from the first encounter to the eventual wipeout of the mafia. I had one minor issue here, the documentary almost did seem like me skimming through a Wikipedia page. The events are on the surface-level before quickly moving on to the next incident. A little more detailing would have been raise the impact of the documentary by atleast a couple of notches. But the events in itself are quite fascinating that do make for a thrill-per-second viewing.

Impact

One of the reasons why this documentary did work for me was because its narrative was balanced and not one sided. It does present and make a case of the fake encounters which may have been carried out by certain cops, only for mere rewards and to extend their tally from their competitors. Another plus was the guest list here that did feature even a ex-member of the D Company and gave his perspective about the entire incidents which did unfold around him. This along with a few encounter specialists, some of whom were(and are at the moment) charged with fake encounters. This is one feature of any documentary that would enhance the viewing experience for the audience – it cannot take sides and should be balanced, something that this documentary does well to address.

The perspectives of even some famous journalists(a time when journalism per say was an honourable profession) does add a nice little angle to the documentary especially when a couple of them were doing ground reporting. A little detail into the investigation bit would not have hurt but I also did like on how the documentary did tap into the psyche of the cops even though it was a tap and a miss. It did add layers to the documentary which did create the required atmospheric impact.

My Take

This is a section wherein I do in a way give my perspective on the incidents of the documentary. Here I did feel that nothing can justify the actions of the gangsters in the 90s particularly when innocent people have been killed. At the same time if I have to speak from the other perspective, if arresting a person is an option then the encounter is not needed at all. After all, there should be some difference between a cop and a gangster, the former is there to protect and kill only if necessary. Which is pretty much the point of view of the documentary as well.

Conclusion

Mumbai Mafia – Police Vs The Underworld is a fast paced and compelling documentary that definitely makes for an engrossing watch. Available on Netflix.

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