“Bhagwan ko maante ho?”- If you didn’t hear this in Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s voice, then you have been missing out on a series that has changed the definition of TV shows in India. No tv series in recent memory has caught the fancy of Indian viewers in a way that ‘Sacred Games’ has. With this, the young audience, who had to rely on Hollywood and other international shows to get a semblance of intelligent entertainment, received something that they could mull over. A story that they could tear apart, only to find a greater mystery waiting to be unravelled.
Sacred Games Season 1 Recap
Based on the book of the same name by Vikram Chandra, ‘Sacred Games’ follows the story of a gangster and a policeman. Nawazuddin Siddiqui plays the role of Ganesh Gaitonde, a meagre man who slowly makes a reputation for himself in the criminal underbelly of Bombay to become the most feared and influential gangster. One half of the story takes the viewers through the streets of the 80s Bombay and covers the arc of Gaitonde’s story and his connection with certain people who play a major role in the 2019 arc.
The other half of the story follows Inspector Sartaj Singh (Saif Ali Khan). In the present day, he is trying to keep his integrity intact while suffering the bullying and intimidation of his corrupt seniors and peers. His personal life is a mess that he can’t set right. He has spent all these years waiting for a case that would be his “big break”; a case that would change the perspective of everyone about him. It comes in the form of a phone call. Gaitonde, who has reportedly been away from the country for the past fifteen years, hints at a catastrophe that is going to destroy all of Mumbai. Only one man will survive this. It is the quest to find this man and to avert this unknown danger that leads Sartaj down a path where he finds dangerous assassins, ruthless criminals and conniving politicians, all playing the same game.
If you haven’t yet caught up with the second season, head over to Netflix. SPOILERS AHEAD
Sacred Games Season 2 Ending: Did the Bomb Go Off?
First, let’s directly jump into the million dollar question you all are wondering about. What really happened at the end of Sacred Games season 2? Did Sartaj succeed in saving the world, or did Guruji’s dream come true? I guess, that question will be answered in Sacred Games season 3, if there is one. ‘Sacred Games’ had been conceived as a two-season series, and if this is the end, then there are no complaints. We might be left hanging on the fate of the world, but there is no doubt that it is a great way to end the story. Keeping aside the prospects of a follow-up season, if we want to know what really happened, I think the answer is supposed to vary from person to person.
The second season subjects the audience to the thought process of Guruji. You get to see both sides of the coin and when it is flipped, you are the one to make the decision about the outcome. It poses a question on whom you agree with? Had you been in the world of ‘Sacred Games’, would you have been a follower of Guruji, or would you have wanted to save the world no matter how screwed up it was? What does your philosophy dictate? If you have been influenced by Guruji and wish for the Satyug Project to go forward, then Mumbai blew up. If not, then you can console yourself that Sartaj is the hero of this story, and, in the end, he did save the day.
But wait! If we compare the patterns entered by Shahid and Sartaj (the first picture shows what Shahid entered and the second picture shows what Sartaj entered), clearly they don’t look alike.
So, does that mean the bomb did really go off? You could interpret it that way, but we don’t know whether the passcodes for activating and deactivating were the same or different. Also, if the makers did want to make a season 3 and continue the same story, there are other multiple ways they can do so. For example, Sartaj was on drugs when he left the ashram. What if he was hallucinating the whole time? In a way, creators left things open because they wanted everyone to discuss the myriad possibilities. And they have been successful in doing that. Remember ‘Inception’?
Anyway, with the biggest question out-of-the-way, let’s take a detailed look into Sacred Games Season 2.
Summary of the Plot
The second season picks up immediately where the finale of the first left off. After spending an unbearably long and excruciating time in prison, Gaitonde starts to believe that he might not make it alive out of there. However, one day, a phone call from a mysterious man changes everything and he is taken away from life in prison. The second season begins with him tied up and on a boat in the middle of the ocean. When the sailor doesn’t tell him where they are or how far they are from Bombay, he decides to swim the distance. But soon, he finds out that the city that he left behind is completely different now, and if he ever wishes to return, he will have to take an alternate path.
In the second storyline, Sartaj had finally discovered the bunker and the coveted Trivedi inside it. From the looks of it, it becomes clear that Gaitonde had been preparing for a nuclear attack. This season has the police scouring the bunker to find out why it existed and if there was any clue that could help them resolve the mystery. As Gaitonde finds his way to his third father, Sartaj Singh uncovers the truth about his own, about the cult developed by Guruji and the devastating plans that he has for the world.
The Third Father
In the first season, Gaitonde hints at the influence of three male figures in his life. While the first two fathers receive a proper storyline and we get to see how they shaped Gaitonde’s life, the nature of the relationship with the third father is shrouded in mystery. We do discover that this person is a religious guru with immense political sway. We also know that this person might look like a saint but is actually the most devious character in the show. He has been after Gaitonde for a while now, and it is also apparent that he is the one who got him in jail in the first place, just so he could manipulate the gangster and get him to do his bidding.
The second season sheds light on Gaitonde’s journey towards Guruji and attests to the viewers’ preconceptions about the characters. Guruji was born into a humble family. His father was a scholar who was as fascinated with science as he was with religious philosophy. As a child, Guruji was very sharp. He could recite all the scriptures at a very young age and his parents actually considered him an “avatar”, a form of God that would save the world. A minor glimpse into the man’s childhood reveals a lot of things about his psyche. First of all, he is highly intelligent. Not only is he word smart, but he is also quite good at profiling people. He knows what they want, he can read their body language and deduce what is going on in their life.
When he was a young boy, his father was taken away by the police and he never returned. Whatever good faith Guruji had in the world was crushed that day. He realises that bad things happen to good people and that the world is actually doomed. Growing up, this idea takes a stronger hold in his heart, and he decides to do something about it. He starts a religious group, which is very similar to a cult, and passes on his twisted ideas to the people who are easily captivated by his magnificence and the resonating philosophy. He knows exactly what to say, to whom, and when. Another trick in his bag is a red pill that allows his followers to enter another plane of reality and understand the world better. This pill is actually some sort of drug that induces hallucinations and dumbs down a person so much that they accept whatever Guruji wants them to think. He is the orchestrator of the mess that has Sartaj chasing leads in the busy streets of Mumbai. In short, Guruji is a psychopath, and there are chances that he might also be a sex offender.
The Satyuga Project
The urgency in ‘Sacred Games’ is driven by the imminent threat that is supposed to kill everyone in twenty-five days. By the time the first season ends, thirteen days have already passed and we know that threat to the city is nuclear. While Gaitonde’s story converges towards Guruji, the present-day investigation leads the cops to a number of terrorist groups, out of which the focus primarily lies on Hizbul Mujahidin. Several factors point towards the involvement of the terrorist group, and on top of that, there is an assassin going around killing everyone who crosses paths with him. And the constant nagging of how Guruji ties up with all this is not leaving Sartaj alone.
One step after another, it is revealed that the focal point of all these things is Guruji. He has grown up with the idea that he is supposed to save the world, and somewhere along the line, he decides that it is not worth saving. He hates what humanity has turned into and wants to start fresh. He wants to quicken the pace of time and jump from Kalyug to Satyug as fast as possible. To bring about this plan, he comes up with a terrifying idea.
Considering how all countries of the world are involved in one destructive mess or another, he decides to escalate everything and bring about nuclear war, in which every country destroys the other until there is no living organism left on the surface of the earth. To keep humanity alive, he has built bunkers where his chosen followers can stay safe while the world is destroyed. These nuclear bunkers have been stacked to maximum capacity so that the survivors can live until the radiation outside dies down. He lures in followers, especially the ones who have suffered some cruel times in life. He shows them how meaningless the world is and how it is not worth saving. He uses various terrorist attacks to expose the damage that humans have done to the world and they need to start from scratch if they want to make things right.
The 26/11 Mumbai attacks become a catalyst in making people commit to the cause. What’s worse is that he uses scientific ideas to provide backing to his religious philosophies. This added legitimacy draws people more strongly towards him, and he succeeds in gaining their unwavering loyalty. The Satyuga Project is Guruji’s life mission. He seems particularly inspired by the story of Manu who is warned by the Matsya avatar (which also happens to be the title of the first episode) about the flood that will destroy the world. This story in Hindu scriptures is similar to the story of Noah’s ark in the Genesis, various versions of which are also found in other major religions. The bunkers are Guruji’s ark and he wants to enter this new world with the people who are ready to follow him blindly. He wants to end Kalyug and restart the cycle of time with Satyug where everything is just and fair; a place where he can be the God. If there is any doubt about that, the fact that he has made a scripture for the new world should affect your opinion.
The Connection of Sartaj’s Father with Guruji
Sartaj is chosen by Gaitonde because of one simple thing. Of all the people that he had met in the world, Dilbagh Singh was the most honest and the purest soul to cross paths with him. He had shown kindness to Gaitonde when everyone else seemed hell-bent to kill him. When he tries to repay the debt by using his influence to make Dilbagh’s life better, he refuses his offerings and says that he helped him out of pure sympathy as a human being. After being betrayed by Guruji as well as Jojo, Gaitonde comes to realise that there is no one else he can trust to save the world except the next of kin of Dilbagh Singh.
The connection of his father with Gaitonde comes as a shock to Sartaj and he wonders if he was also one of the corrupt cops. Every time he finds out something new about his father’s past, he also discovers that his mother knows about everything about it. She stresses time and again that his father never hid anything from them and had been a good man and an honest cop throughout his life. However, in the second season, Sartaj discovers that his father had been one of the people to be indulged with the apocalyptic plan of Guruji. This betrayal even drives him to join the cult. For a while, he considers letting the world burn and start anew. Obviously, he doesn’t know the whole truth.
Just like anyone else, Dilbagh Singh had been attracted to the religious teachings of the enigmatic Guruji. There is no doubt that that man had a charm that could captivate anyone. Played with an eerie finesse by Pankaj Tripathi, Guruji seems capable of brainwashing anyone. Nowhere in the series did I agree with one single thing he said, but I could see how people would be attracted to a person like that. Dilbagh Singh spent time in the ashram hoping that it would bring him some peace of mind. After Guruji reveals his plans for humanity, he, like a couple of other people, is repulsed by the idea. But he decides to stay even when Guruji gives the option of leaving to those who don’t agree with him.
Before he can make his move, Dilbagh realises that the people who have left are actually going to be killed. Sartaj doesn’t know it, but his father stays back for the fear of his life. However, he is unable to hide his hesitation when he is called to imprint upon the Kaalgranth. In the next scene, we see Malcolm staring at him with a needle in his hand. This implies that Guruji and others had sensed Dilbagh’s reservations about their plans and knew that he could be a problem in the long run. So, they killed him.
Who is Trivedi?
“Only Trivedi will be left alive. I will save him”. These are one of the first lines that Gaitonde says to Sartaj. The first season is driven by the mystery of this Trivedi and why he is the only one who gets the privilege of surviving while everyone else dies. In the finale of the first season, Sartaj discovers Gaitonde’s bunker where he finds a dead body. We concur that this is Trivedi. Our deduction is based on the fact that this person’s name is Trivedi, but we also come across a difficult question here. Didn’t Gaitonde say that only Trivedi will survive after twenty-five days? How does that fit in when he is already dead? The second season reveals that this isn’t the Trivedi that Gaitonde had been talking about.
The second season is overall a great watch, but there are a few times where we wonder why a certain storyline is being pursued. For example, the episode that features the movie-making process seems unnecessary and you begin to wonder if ‘Sacred Games’ has turned into just another show that started out great but couldn’t keep up with the standards it had set for itself. Turns out, this plotline wasn’t so irrelevant after all. In a very blink and miss moment, the third episode solves the mystery of Trivedi. In the movie about Gaitonde’s life, the scene where his father is arrested for the murder of his mother, his name is called out as “Trivedi”. If you were keen on that detail, then that final twist might not have been so shocking or revelatory for you. But if you didn’t, then you need to pay more attention!
Gaitonde felt insulted by the way his father would bring food on their table. Moreover, his mother had been having an affair, which made him even angrier. So, one day, he kills her. His father is caught for the crime and sent to jail. While in the first season, Gaitonde expresses his hatred for his first father; in the second season, we find him struggling with the guilt of ruining his father’s life. In truth, he cared about him. He allowed him to be taken away for the crime he hadn’t committed, but the guilt did nag at him all his life. He suppressed it for a long time, but once he fell under the spell of Guruji, he was made to confront his demons. After Gaitonde realises that he loves Bombay more than he wants to destroy the world, he flips back on the intended plan, kills Guruji, and runs away with the Kaalgranth. He posts it to his father, the only place where no one will look. He also sends a letter to him, asking him to go to the bunker, just in case the plan does go forward and the whole world is destroyed. The Trivedi that Gaitonde talked about with Sartaj is not Guruji’s pawn, but his own father.
Sacred Games Season 2 Finale
The finale brings the fast-paced second season to a thrilling end. Just when we thought there were no more revelations left to be thrown around, we discover a completely out-of-the-blue story about Sartaj’s mother’s family. During the Partition, her family had been running away from Pakistan but had car trouble on the way. In a hurry, they had left behind their dog, and her older sister was not happy about it. Believing that the dog has followed them, she steps out of the car and runs towards the voice, but is caught by some people who take her away. Later, she turns out to be the mother of Shahid Khan, the head of Hizbul Mujahidin who is supported by Guruji. This means that Shahid and Sartaj are cousins!
Gaitonde’s storyline finally catches up with Sartaj’s and we are brought back to the scene that kickstarted the first season of the series. We see how Guruji’s Trivedi ended up dead in the bunker and why Jojo was killed by Gaitonde when in the second season she appeared to be someone who he grew to love and trust. Meanwhile, Parulkar comes to realise the gravity of his errors and is so driven by the guilt that he first kills Bhosale and then himself. The second season also serves a redemption arc to Majid’s character who grows out of the influence of his corrupt senior and dedicates himself to the job, becoming a trusted ally for Sartaj, in the process. His efforts lead the team to the nuclear bomb, but before they can find Shahid Khan, Majid is shot dead.
Sartaj had been so traumatised with the deaths of innocent people around him that he becomes disillusioned with the world and accepts the ashram’s philosophy to let it burn. However, in the last moment, he changes his mind and leaves the bunker, shooting Batya in the manner that parallels Gaitonde’s killing of Jojo. However, unlike the gangster, Sartaj leaves a wounded Batya behind, which highlights another difference in the character of the protagonists whose storylines had taken a similar turn.
After the bomb is located, the cops realize that the problem is not solved. Turns out that a password is needed to disable the bomb, and to figure that out, they have only eleven minutes do so. Neither having any idea of what it could be nor the time and resources to figure it out, the team decides to leave while they have time. Sartaj stays back to figure out the password. He searches through the Kaalgranth and tries a couple of wrong patterns. In the end, he only has one attempt left and a couple of seconds to figure out the answer. After a hassled consideration, he decides to go with the pattern that has his father’s name on it. As the device processes the input, the clock ticks down to the last couple of seconds. Before we can see what happened, the camera cuts to black.