Scam 2003: The Telgi Story Review: Intriguing but Lacks depth with Pacing issues

Scam 2003 : The Telgi Story is the second installment in the Scam franchise, and the first five episodes of the web series focus on the rise of Abdul Karim Telgi. The series is helmed by Tushar Hiranandani and features a captivating performance by Gagan Dev Riar as Telgi.

Unlike the flashy flamboyance of Harshad Mehta in Scam 1992, Telgi remains low-key and mostly understated in his endeavors, fully aware of the dangers of drawing attention to himself. We are introduced to Telgi on a train, selling fruits wrapped in a photocopy of his B.Com degree certificate. His focused dialogues and unique character catch the attention of a well-wisher, leading him to Bombay where he helps boost the revenue of a local guest house. After falling in love with the owner’s daughter and marrying her, Telgi goes to Saudi for a few years. Upon his return, Telgi’s story truly takes off.

Based on Sanjay Singh’s book ‘Telgi Scam: Reporter’s Ki Diary’ and with a screenplay by Karan Vyas, Kiran Yadnyopavit, and Kedar Patankar, the series delves into Telgi’s focus on stamp papers. The initial scenes provide insight into the production and distribution of stamp papers across the country. Telgi’s plan is to replace real stamp papers with fake ones in just six minutes by breaking into a moving train. Once successful, he aims to work with corporate companies and obtain an official license for a larger operation. However, the risks involved begin to surface.

The central themes of ambition, greed, and the wealth gap between the rich and the poor are explored in this classic underdog story. While Scam 1992 effectively portrayed the pursuit of power rather than mere wealth, Scam 2003 occasionally struggles to maintain this context. The screenplay takes too long to establish Telgi’s modus operandi, and certain sequences lack depth and attention to detail. For example, a scene where Telgi meets a politician and offers him a bouquet filled with money feels hollow and unfocused.

Although the supporting characters and their involvement in the central story are fascinating, the groundwork for their development is lacking. The voiceover by Telgi feels rushed and at times spoon-feeds viewers. Additionally, the portrayal of Telgi from one perspective limits the depth of his character, despite Gagan Dev Riar’s commendable performance. The actor infuses the character with a restless energy, but the screenplay fails to fully utilize his talent.

The decision to split the series into two parts is questionable. With the first five episodes solely focusing on Telgi’s rise, the abrupt “To be continued” conclusion may hinder the overall reception of a story that relies on the juxtaposition of rise and fall. Only time will tell how this decision plays out.

Overall, Scam 2003: The Telgi Story showcases a compelling narrative and a standout performance by Gagan Dev Riar. The series, however, suffers from pacing issues and a lack of depth in certain aspects of the storytelling. Despite these flaws, it remains an intriguing addition to the Scam franchise and is worth a watch for fans of the genre.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

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