Scoop – My Flash Review of the series and the state of affairs!

Any film or series that is based on real-life incidents or current affairs has always piqued my interest. Naturally, I wanted to watch Scoop, a web series that is streaming now on Netflix which happens to be a cinematic adaptation of a book – Behind Bars in Byculla. This is a biographical account of Jigna Vora, a crime beat reporter and journalist based in Mumbai. In the book, Vora writes about the case, the dubious circumstances under which she was jailed and her harrowing time behind bars awaiting bail.

I remember following the case closely back then for some time. And there was a reason for it.  The case pertained to the murder of Jyotirmoy Dey, a senior journalist with the Midday newspaper in broad daylight on the 11th of June, 2011 in the afternoon. That day which was a Saturday, I had just finished a late lunch with a friend of mine, walked back to the office which was half a km away from the restaurant and was getting into the car when I started hearing a lot of commotion and chatter on the road. On enquiry, I was told that a person was shot dead near the circle at Powai, Hiranandani Gardens one of the poshest localities in suburban Mumbai, by some shooters who sped away. The crime scene was just a few metres away from the restaurant where I had my lunch half an hour ago.

In the days that followed, since the victim was from the journalist community, there was a lot of noise in the media and eventually after a few months, like any other news item, this also disappeared from the news cycle until one day I heard that a lady journalist from a rival newspaper has been arrested in charges of abetting the murder of J. Dey. This was Jigna Vora who eventually was acquitted of all charges related to the murder. Back then, even considering all the competition among media houses and professional rivalry among journalists, a journalist helping the underworld to eliminate another journalist was a story difficult to believe.

All those events and scenes were playing in my mind as I watched this web series with keen interest. Of course, the names of the characters in the series have all been changed but one could easily identify the real-life characters behind many of the names.  For example, the character of DCP Harshavardhan Roy played surprisingly well by Harman Baweja is the late Himanshu Roy, once a super cop of Mumbai who literally used to flex his muscles in all his public appearances. He was super fit and a well-built man with his biceps always bursting at the seams. Unfortunately, he committed suicide later when diagnosed with cancer reportedly under depression. Similarly, the character of Imran Siddiqui in the film is based on the famous author and journalist Hussain Zaidi.

While the web series directed by Hansal Mehta is an adaptation of the book, what we see is a more dramatic representation. In the book, Vora alternates her chapters between her journey as a reporter when she was chasing those exciting crime stories and her horrifying days in Byculla prison when she was put after being charged with abetting the murder of Dey. The cinematic adaptation accords more time to the events that lead to her arrest, the portions of which are extremely engaging and interesting. The latter portion showing her life in jail is less engaging as we have seen glimpses of such scenes in many other films in the past. In that sense, the entire writing and screenplay team of Mrunmayee Lagoo, Mirat Trivedi, Anu Singh Chaudhary and Karan Vyas has done a brilliant job by focusing more on the case and the eventual acquittal. The web series tends to sag when the scene shifts to the jail where Vora is shown going through her days and meeting other interesting people.

The film shows a mirror to the media itself which is supposed to be the fourth pillar in a democracy by exposing inter-media rivalry, the quest for breaking news and sensationalising it every other day, the cosy nexus that exists between the police and the media and eventually how the media fraternity let down one of its own. We get to see in detail the extent of rivalry that is there between newspapers which makes the respective reporting team go to any extent to break news that too before anyone else. As far as the nexus between the cops and reporters go, it is clearly a “You scratch my back, I will yours” relationship. The reporters need the help of the police to confirm any scoop they get as only confirmed news bits will be eventually carried by the paper/channel. The cops cultivate friendly journalists so that they can be used to push their own agenda and narrative. The film brings out these aspects very clearly.

The makers get the casting bang on with the principal characters all fitting their roles perfectly. Karishma Tanna playing the role of the main protagonist Jagruti Pathak (Jigna Vora in real life) is a great find. As a young and ambitious journo, she brings raw energy onto the screen.  Much later when she is arrested on false charges, she displays equally well her vulnerable self. She has a great screen presence and I am sure we will get to see her more often from here. The other actor to watch out for in this is Zeeshan Ayyub playing the role of the editor and Pathak’s boss. Usually a fine actor, this is one of his finest performances.

For the most part, the series is gripping and at the same time extremely real. From what we see, we can easily relate to the Tamasha which gets played out every night on Primetime on News TV.  We can now understand how in the Sushant Singh death case, for example, narratives and counter-narratives got peddled on different channels day in and day out. It was a clear case of channels for their own TRP gains taking the side of different stakeholders including the police and running their own kangaroo courts based on leaks and counter leaks. For all those who were diligently following the tamasha that played out, did the case go anywhere? Once a bigger story broke, this case got into oblivion as the channels and news cycle moved on.

Hansal Mehta, who with his earlier web series Scam – 1992 which was also inspired by a book on the real-life story of Harshad Mehta, had hit the bull’s eye (pun intended), now with this Scoop proves that he is a master craftsman in translating a book onto the big screen. This is not easy as it sounds but he has once again given a good account of himself.

Scoop is an interesting case of news bearers becoming the news which isn’t exactly a good thing. I would put Scoop in the must watch category if you are a current affairs buff and as far as what is playing out as news these days on TV, less said the better!

0 thoughts on “Scoop – My Flash Review of the series and the state of affairs!”

  1. Hi Anand ! Haven’t seen the series yet, but your review of it definitely deserves 5 stars !! 👏👌👍

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