Sacred Games And Black Mirror: Crafted Dark Stories Opening Doors To Reality

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The age of cliffhangers rewrites the style of stories being told “Kabhi kabhi lagta hai apun hi Bhagwan hai!” If this line rings a bell in your head, then you too, are probably among the majority whose minds that got influenced by Sacred Games. The essence of the series travelled all the way abroad, to other countries as well. But what is it that these shows have to keep people on the hook for days and for months? Let us take the examples of two such series, one ‘Sacred games’ and the other ‘Black Mirror’.

Sacred Games is an online thriller series that is based on the novel written by Vikram Chandra in 2006. It is not only the fact that it is the first Netflix original series from India that people were excited about, but the dark themed violence among gang lords in the name of religion as well. With the twin directors Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane putting the ideas of power, religion, politics and violence in their combined styles of eccentricity, the series received overwhelming response from its viewers. Black Mirror on the other hand is a British television series created by Charlie Brooker that beats around the concept of the personal lives of people being manipulated by the advancements in technology. One can say that it is a dark themed drama that drives people into a surreal and illusionistic world that projects their inner fears. You either accept the series awed by its thematic influence or you just detest it for instilling a sense of fear that is most unlikely to occur anytime in the near future.

But coming back to the question as to why people develop a craze for Netflix series, particularly ones like Sacred Games, Black Mirror and the others that fall in the same line, I believe there are multiple perspectives one can look at. In a world where women are raped, men are lynched, and animals slaughtered in the name of vengeance, corruption, and religion, a series like Sacred Games is doing nothing but highlighting and reminding us what we already know. People like Gaitonde are everywhere. The difference is that they might not be protagonists or villains but ordinary people like you and me. Out of the hundred corrupt officers in the Indian police, there might be a Sartaj Singh. Out of the several women who are shackled by the arms of patriarchy, there might be an Anjali Mathur. Out of hundreds of officers who talk and act behind their bosses, there might be people like Constable Katekar as well.Also, in a world where we have our web cameras on laptops taped and smartphone cameras away from our private actions, a series like Black Mirror is just forecasting the future that lies before us. It is way too dark to be our future, some might say. But honestly, you think so? Do we really believe that our technologically advanced world is not capable of something like that?

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It is futuristic and not realistic, yes, but the idea is not completely fictional, because whether we like it or not, we all know that the world is anything but rainbows and unicorns. This is the major impact that is created by series like Sacred Games and Black Mirror. They let people connect. They let people connect to the characters, to the plot, to the setting, to the idea and eventually the mood starts growing on them. For instance, even if you are not a politically inclined person in real life, Sacred Games will expose you to a politically volatile society that is similar to the one you are living in. Starting from the Babri Masjid demolition to the Beef lynching incidents, one might be reminded of the history of religious games played in our country by the various political parties of today. Every political leader is similar to the gang lords shown on the screen who do things to fulfil their selfish interests. “The reason why I liked Sacred Games was that I felt it was very realistic. Also, with the cliff hanger personality of the episodes along with the brilliant acting of Nawazuddin Siddiqui, I liked the way how they tend to make you like the characters that you would not dare like in real life,” says Kurian Thomas, a final year engineering student, Sacred Hearts, Kochi, Kerala.

Although the approach and presentation of Black Mirror is quite different from that of Sacred Games, ultimately that too plays games with the minds of the viewers. Though its main focus is on technology, the manipulation part of it lies deep within the psychological mind-set of human beings. Human beings showcased traits of curiosity, jealousy and competition with other human beings from time immemorial. These character traits are the ones that make us vulnerable to the exploitation put forth by technology. No one trusts anyone and this is the key for first class manipulation. When asked about the visuals in Black Mirror, Reshma Nair, a second year student of Film Studies, Manipal University says, “The dark theme combined with powerful visuals definitely played games with my brain. And yes, the editing is just mind blowing!”

Having said all of this, the craze for series like these lie in the way it is being told. A good story in the hands of a bad director is as equivalent to a bad story. Series like Sacred Games and Black Mirror stand apart from the bad ones because here, every scene throws open a new perspective to the viewer using different camera styles and techniques. People have evolved from being just mere viewers to content appreciators. And this means that online series like these will continue to have a great market for as long as people are open to perspectives. And lastly, for ordinary people like you and me, series like these is an escape from reality. It gives voice to our thoughts and encourages us to believe less in a Utopian world.

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