On September 1, filmmaker Hansal Mehta’s Scam 2003: The Telgi Story was released on Sony Liv. The series is based on the life of Abdul Karim Telgi, the infamous con artist who shook the stamp paper market with a fraud worth Rs 30,000 crore. The scam was started in the 1990s and came to light in 2003. The first season of the series has five episodes.
Earlier in 2020, the first installment of the ‘Scam’ franchise, Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story, was released and touched a 9.3 rating on IMDB, the highest ever for an Indian web series.
Scam 2003: The Telgi Story is directed by Tushar Hiranandani. It is an adaptation of a Hindi book named Telgi Scam: Reporter Ki Diary by Sanjay Singh. Actor Gagan Dev Riar played the lead character of Abdul Karim Telgi.
The series begins with Riar’s monologue, expressing the significance of dreams. If left unfulfilled, life remains barren.
The episode shows Telgi getting a narco test in the beginning, where a doctor is seen asking him about the politicians involved in the scam. Later, the story moved to 1982, when young and educated Telgi was seen selling fruits on a train. He was invited by a man named Shaukat to work in Mumbai for him. After working for a few months for him, Telgi married his daughter and later went to the Gulf to earn money for a few years.
Upon returning in 1991, Telgi started sending people to the Gulf by making fake documents. He was caught by the police and sent to jail, where he met Kaushal Zaveri, his future partner.
In the later episodes, they together got into replacing original stamp papers with fake ones and moved ahead in the business. At one point, Zaveri and Telgi parted ways, and Telgi built political connections and eventually got entrapped in a political drama that evolves around the scam.
The characters were added seamlessly as the story moved ahead in the series. Speaking about performance, Riar aptly fits Telgi’s character. The ordinary looks, yet strong performance, will keep you hooked to the story. Towards the end of season 1, a series of events starts turning against Telgi, and its consequences are to be revealed in the later episodes.
Several dialogues leave an impact on the viewers. “Life mein neeche se upar chalang marni ho toh daring karna padega na darling,” is one of them.
The second volume of the series is set to be released in November 2023.
Now, coming to the problem with the series. Hansal Mehta habitually inserts unnecessary communal or Leftist tropes in the series. In his last series, Scoop, he showed pro-Naxal so-called journalists as victims of the system in the end just before the credits. In Scam 2003, ideally, there was no need to add the issue of a disputed structure that Hindu Karsewaks demolished in the 1990s. Leaving this part aside, the series is watch-worthy.