Onto the next release of the weekend and I finished watching the new Hindi series Scoop which is directed by Hansal Mehta. And you know that while he is a good director in the medium of films, he has achieved greatness in the longest format on OTT with probably the best show in the history of webseries – Scam 1992. And so when he did return to the long format with Scoop, I was really excited on what this series had to offer.
Journalism as a profession has just gone from back to worse in current times. There was a time when News was flashed only after verifying the truth behind it, as opposed to today when the news is flashed without even the basic fact checks in place. There are vested interests of the news channels becoming mouth pieces of the authorities wherein no one really wants to ask questions. With so much at stake, the once noble profession is now reduced to being clowns veiled as vultures in what is the undoing of the fourth pillar of democracy. Yet, there are a few journalists who have been trying to do their job with utmost honesty. But we live in times where honesty always comes with a price wherein either the journalists are arrested or bumped off. And based on one such true story, Scoop did promise to ruffle some feathers. So then does Scoop manage to impress, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Based on true events and on a novel Behind Bars In Byculla : My Days In Prison by Jigna Vora, Scoop follows the story of a journalist falsely accused in the murder of a fellow journalist. Will she get out of this pickle? The story here is excellent and something that needed to be told based on its relevancy. And kudos to Netflix for bringing out shows like Trial By Fire and now Scoop based on true events. The subject matter in itself was interesting here and I was curious as to how deep the makers are willing to go given that the concept of the show was to highlight the underbelly of journalism and crime. But it is the screenplay of 6 episodes ranging from 50 odd minutes to 70 odd minutes that makes for such a compelling watch that had me binge watch the entire show in a single night.
It was in 2013 that a journalist Jyotirmoy Dey was killed in broad day light in a residential area in Powai. I recall that it was a shocking event but I admittedly hadn’t actively followed its case. And this is the center point on which Scoop is based on. It has a proper three act structure, highlighting the three different phases of the protagonist accused of murder of a colleague from her fraternity. So we are introduced to the protagonist who is an ambitious young woman who constantly wants to fare better than her rivals in the field of journalism. The era is the early 2010s when journalism as a profession was on its last leg of maintaining ethics with a hint of corruption seeping in their veins. You are given a glimpse of the personal life of the protagonist who doesn’t quite have time for her family(or she chooses her job over them). You can see her hustle and the extent of getting some ‘scoop’ by mending ways all in the bargain to appear on the front page of her publication. There is an undercurrent of crime that forms a foundation for the story until the writers introduce the first conflict in the form of a murder and the drama scores the best when the focus is on the investigation.
The proceedings are interesting and insightful while being fast paced, something that will have your entire attention. Yet, the narration is partly fuelled by the characterization too wherein a bunch of characters when put in a situation react differently, thus leading to further interesting equations. This while there is an underlying commentary on the crab mentality prevalent in the profession with hints of patriarchy(given how a few cannot see women on the top of their game). There are layers to the story which allows you room to sympathize with the protagonist after a point so much so that it will make your blood boil. It also does highlight on the loopholes of the system where one party can go upto any extent to nail even the other innocent party while the ongoing media trials already announce their verdict!
The sequence of events unfolding leading up to the eventual trial when the accused protagonist is behind bars will make you squirm in your seat. The drama is uncomfortable when the past of the protagonist begins to haunt her present. The events are raw and quite disturbing to say the least wherein an attempt is made to get into the psyche of the protagonist(and her affected close ones too). A parallel track on the grand expose happens only on the sidelines and deliberately so wherein the writers wish to showcase that not many are interested in the truth and news channels are nothing more than an entertainment channel known just to engage the viewers. While the final act does provide respite and hope, it forces you to ponder on where we are collectively at as a society and whether anything around us is news at all? Overall, the screenplay is crackling and unabashed and it makes for a brilliant watch!
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are conversational but the lines are well restrained and never melodramatic thereby creating a solid impact while being insightful too. I am a certified Achint Thakkar fan and he scores yet again with the music and BGM which are fantastic and heighten the tension in the drama. The cinematography in conjuction with the art design is outstanding and they create an ambience of the various places(courtrooms, jail, press office) so well while capturing a flavour of the city too. The editing is crisp for most of the duration. Director Hansal Mehta does a magnificent job in telling a story which is all the more relevant today. The storytelling is engaging and engrossing and it makes for a fabulous impact wherein the direction deserves distinction marks!
The performances are absolutely brilliant here. Girish Sharma has his moments to shine as does Danish Sait as Sushant who is pretty good. Mehul Kajaria as Jagruti’s ex-husband is intimidating and will make your blood boil which means an excellent job done! Manasi Rachh as Neha is excellent as the journalist who still has the kind of ethics required for her profession. Shikha Talsania as Sadhvi Ma is first rate as is Tejaswini Kolhapure as Chhaya and Swaroopa Ghosh as Usha ma. Ishitta Arun, Malhar Thakkar as Ajitesh, Ninad Kamat as Jagamohan, Rasika Agashe as Meena(the jailer), Kashyap Kapoor as Murad, Ira Dubey as Anita and Ayaz Menon as Brij are wonderful additions to the cast and they do a swell job. Azeem Hatangady as Sandeep Narvekar is wonderfully restrained and does an incredible job. Shreya Gupto as Rupali is outstanding despite a limited screen time in a job done really well. Jaimini Pathak as Chintan is simply brilliant in the penultimate courtroom scenes wherein he infuses his performance with a hint of humour.
Tannishtha Chatterjee as Leena has a sense of vile and calmness to her character that makes for a splendid watch. Harman Baweja as Shroff is quite good and it was good to see him onscreen after a very long hiatus. Tanmay Dhanania as Pushkar has a wonderful character arc from being unpleasant to finally finding his conscience and he was fabulous to watch. Inayat Sood as Deepa had the exact reverse arc and she was excellent in her performance. Prosenjit Chatterjee as Sen Dada is such a prolific actor who shines despite a limited screen time. Deven Bhojani as The uncle of the protagonist was one of my favourite characters of the series who was always so positive despite not so good things going around him. He was affable and such a caring character in a job done to perfection.
I am a fan of Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub and his body of work. As Imran, he was excellent in every sense of the word here in yet another towering act! He was calm and collected with a sense of ease in his performance that had me studying his mannerisms and the smaller nuances to his character every time he was on screen. Karishma Tanna was an interesting choice to begin with for the character of Jagruti but she was an absolute revelation. She looked every bit of her character, from her body language to her mannerisms and she was just so brilliant in every sense of the word. I wish more filmmakers back her and she is one talent who could make inroads atleast in the OTT space! Filmmakers are you listening??
Scoop is a crackling drama exposing the underbelly of journalism and crime, with outstanding performances that comes with my highest recommendation! Available on Netflix and Highly Highly Recommended!