‘Scam 2003: The Telgi Story’ is a biographical financial thriller web series directed by Tushar Hiranandani (Saand Ki Aankh), with Hansal Mehta serving as the show runner. Scam 2003 is based on the 2003 India Stamp Paper counterfeiting committed by Abdul Karim Telgi, the series is inspired from Sanjay Singh’s book ‘Telgi Scam: Reporter’s ki Diary’. It serves as the second instalment in ‘Scam’ franchise followed by ‘Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story‘. Unlike Harshad Mehta’s many of Telgi’s facts and characteristics are not in common man’s knowledge, unless one happens to be an avid follower of financial news.
Rags-to-riches stories are always attractive, especially when the protagonist is presented as street-smart or a hustler. Abdul Karim Telgi (Gagan Dev Riar), a resident of Khanapur in Karnataka, is introduced selling fruits and vegetables on trains impressing the passengers and inducing them into buying his stock. One such passenger Shaukat (Talat Aziz) gets impressed with his polished language, hands him over his address and instructs him to meet him in Mumbai.
On reaching Mumbai, Abdul becomes instrumental in turning around Shaukat’s sagging lodging business and soon marries Shaukat’s daughter Nafisa (Sana Amin Sheikh). Things seem well but Abdul is not the one to be satisfied with less. He always used his catchphrase ‘daring toh karna padega darling’ to try different money making scheme. So much so that his schemes gave him unimaginable returns, exposing holes in the ‘system’ which rules us, a system that keeps the common man out of power-and-wealth circles.
He moves to Saudi Arabia for seven years but later returns back to Mumbai on the pretext that he doesn’t aim to ‘earn money’, Telgi wanted to ‘make money’ soon gets caught for his ‘pushing’ business. Though he doesn’t remain in jail for long thanks to his ‘jugaadoo’ talks that convinces people in believing in his schemes. From selling fruits on trains to ‘pushing’ manpower, Abdul gets his hands in stamps and later on into the huge Stamp Paper counterfeiting business.
Since it’s a biography of a long drawn scamster, it is best to see it unfolding right in front of you to understand the situations and the nuances used by the subject to execute his plan. Also the finer points of his life and lifestyle and people around him and all the people that he is connected to cannot be diluted in a review.
Scam 2003 is sure going to be compared and judged on the basis of Hansal Mehta’s earlier series ‘Scam 1992‘ and ‘Scoop’. Scam 2003 does not meet the expectations. The reasons could be either the story not being as popular as Harshad Mehta’s or thrilling and chilling as that of Jigna Vora’s or it could be the style of narrating a story. The earlier two were helmed by Hansal Mehta as against Scam 2003 being helmed by Tushar Hiranandani.
Gagan Dev Riar as Abdul Karim Telgi seems confident, with his body language, a very common look and typical dressing sense, shirt bulging over his protruding paunch which camouflages his skilled mind always working on how to get things done.
Though not a great idea, Scam 2003 is spread across 2 parts of which the first part has 5 episodes. All in all, ‘Scam 2003: The Telgi Story’ is a one time watch for lovers of thriller content, but with a caution for its foul cringe worthy language at various junctures.
Web Series: Scam 2003: The Telgi Story
Based on: Sanjay Singh’s ‘Telgi Scam: Reporter’s ki Diary’
Directed by: Tushar Hiranandani
Cast: Gagan Dev Riar, Hemang Vyas, Mukesh Tiwari, Talat Aziz, Sana Amin Sheikh, Bharat Jadhav, Shashank Ketkar, Nikhil Ratnaparkhi
Streaming on: SonyLIV
Episodes: 5 episodes of around 50 mins each