Scoop: Exploring the perils of crime Journalism and the fight for justice
  • Release Date: – 01/06/2023
  • Cast: – Karishma Tanna, Harman Baweja, Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub
  • Creator: – Hansal Mehta

Jaideb Sen (Prasenjit Chatterjee), a senior journalist with special expertise in the Mumbai Underworld, is shot dead by Chotta Rajan’s gang members in broad daylight. The Mumbai Crime Branch launches an investigation and ends up arresting a large number of people for the conspiracy and murder of Sen.

One of those arrested is Sen’s fellow crime journalist and deputy bureau chief for one of Mumbai’s largest tabloid newspapers, Jagruti Pathak (Karishma Tanna). Jagruti is charged with instigating and providing crucial information to Chotta Rajan to carry out the strike.

Hansal Mehta’s “Scoop” is Jagruti’s story and an effort to unravel if she was actually responsible for the death of Sen or if she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The series relies on the intelligence of the viewer and expects a lot from them: –

Hansal Mehta is someone who can be entrusted to present some of the most interesting and important stories of real crime and conspiracy in the most intelligible and engrossing manner.

His previous choice of films and series like “Shahid”, “Citylight”, “Omerta”, and “Scam 1992” are a testimony to this fact. In “Scoop”, he chooses a subject where he could have either simplified the screenplay to make the audience understand and relate to the story from the get-go or keep it realistic and authentic to the subject, thereby alienating the audience to a certain extent. He goes for the latter and even in that, he is able to create a tale that is endlessly intriguing, impactful, and, in some sequences, very difficult to watch.

He ensures this by keeping the story sensational and shocking throughout and forces the audience to do their own digging to fully comprehend the actions and dialogue of the characters.

A realistic and engaging plunge into the world of an investigative journalist: –

“Scoop” can be broadly divided into two portions. The first portion of the series plays out before the arrest of Jagruti, and in this portion, we learn a lot about the world of investigative crime journalism and how journalists get their scoops. We get an idea of the close relationship between the various entities involved in the crooked and cut-throat world of the Mumbai underworld and how they are all interconnected.

Through the various characters in the series, Mehta shows us how journalists had to find their footing and interact with the police and the underworld, extracting the right amount of information from both and confirming it from both sources. While informers and close aides of major dons were the journalists’ primary sources from the underworld, the higher brass of the police was more than happy to help put out the correct news, although they often tried to utilise the journalists to push their own agendas.

Mehta also shows us the dynamics and rivalry between the various law enforcement departments entrusted with the same responsibility of wiping out the underworld and putting an end to the likes of Dawood and Chotta Rajan.

If that was not enough, the journalists also had to contend with competition, rivalry, and jealousy within their own organisation and with rival publications. This was not simply a matter of dealing with competition but could have serious implications, as we see in Jagruti’s case.

The dynamics between the publication arm and the commercial arm of a newspaper are also wonderfully explained, highlighting the problems that editors faced in printing what was necessary and underlining how sensationalism and pleasing various institutions were more important to the management than the truth.

A stomach-churning portrayal of the protagonist’s incarceration: –

The second portion of the film deals with Jagruti’s ordeal in judicial custody and how minor evidence is used against her to build a case that keeps her behind bars for almost nine months.

The film shows the intricate workings of the judicial procedures through numerous hearings and the games being played behind the ironclad processes and protocols of the defence mechanism. The politics inside the jail and how a systematic machinery works to break the convicts in ways known only to those who have seen the inner workings of a prison are also vividly brought to life.

These are the portions that I found most difficult to watch, and I’m sure every thinking audience member will find them equally difficult to sit through. There is a scene involving a piece of soap and what happens to Jagruti when she tries to use it herself that would make most audiences cringe.

If that was not enough, the show also vividly documents the various power struggles that go on inside the prison. There is at least one prisoner who bears an uncanny resemblance to someone we know. Jagruti’s interaction with this character results in some interesting dramatic exchanges.

The source material has enough meat to justify the episodes: –

“Scoop” is based on “Behind Bars in Byculla” by Jigna Vora. The writer and the book are the inspirations for the character of Jagruti Pathak and her story respectively. Being based on a book gives the screenplay solid source material to work with and results in a lot of material being presented in a way that proves the series is well-researched.

The various characters are envisioned and executed with honesty and subtlety, enhancing their appeal and impact. The set-ups and the drama feel genuine and organic since a large chunk of it is based on real events.

The performances by the ensemble cast are great: –

Karishma Tanna is by far the best thing about the series in terms of performances. She brings out the duality of Jagruti’s character, who starts off as a strong and independent woman and is then reduced to a hapless creature that everyone in jail takes advantage of. Her portrayal of Jagruti’s incarceration in jail was heartbreaking.

Tanna portrays the character with extreme honesty, hitting the right emotional notes every time. She not only understands the various beats of the character but is also willing to go the extra mile to make the necessary impact. Her scenes with her son, the police officers, and her boss played by Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub all feel distinct as they should, and have the necessary hook to keep the audience interested in the prolonged conversations.

She had to be intriguing in order to ensure audience engagement since the series is 90% dialogue between characters, and a large chunk of it involves her character. She excels in every aspect of her character, and this might just prove to be a career-defining role for her.

Harman Baweja is terrific as a law enforcement officer. He is practically unrecognisable in the role, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. He has finally found his footing in acting, and it is only a matter of time before he is offered juicier roles.

Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub has been delivering one great performance after another, and he is no different here. As the editor of the paper that Jagruti works for, he is fantastic. I loved the sense of “dadagiri” and affirmation that he brought to the character. At the same time, his performance is kept simple and realistic to ensure that the character is believable and doesn’t become overly flimsy.

Final Words: –

“Scoop” is reminiscent of the changing face of entertainment in modern times. A series like this would never have been possible without the advent of OTT platforms. Hansal Mehta has been saving his best content for the web and proves once again that when it comes to real crimes and their organic transformation into intelligible and entertaining stories, he is right up there with the best in the world.

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Karma Paljor

This is a series that is flying below the radar of most audiences because everyone is captivated by “Asur season 2”, another exceptionally well-made series. However, “Scoop” will definitely get its due recognition in time and it should, in all likelihood, be at the top of your watch list this week.

Rating: 3.5/5 (3.5 out of 5 Stars)

The views expressed in this article are that of the reviewer and do not reflect EastMojo’s position.

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