'Jamtara' [Netflix] review: A gripping tale of Jharkhand's cybercrime gangs
Jamtara, an otherwise ignored, underdeveloped city/district in Jharkhand, suddenly came to national attention a couple of years back, when police teams from as many as 12 different states visited the area and made countless arrests in relation to several phishing scams originating from there. The notorious cybercrime gangs of Jamtara are again a talking point, courtesy a new Netflix original series. Here's our review.
Directed by Soumendra Padhi, whose film Budhia Singh - Born to Run won a National Award in 2016, 10-episode-long Jamtara - Sabka Number Ayega is inspired by infamous cybercrime gangs of the titular town, that made headlines for nationwide phishing scams they conducted between 2015-17.
To begin with, Jamtara - Sabka Number Ayega introduces us to a gang of young guns openly operating a successful phishing racket. Their business' settings, often involving the open fields of Jamtara are humble, but their dreams are many. These 16-20 year old boys have developed a curious penchant of dialing and looting random people, as they pretend to be genuine bank employees.
It's an interesting and a rather unexplored premise to play with, but that's not what makes Jamtara a rare Netflix India gem- the real magic of this series lies in the fearless way Padhi treats it and the heartfelt performances given by its young actors.
However, the boys aren't without their problems - they don't make good friends, in fact, one hardly trusts the other. The epicentre of the gang are two cousins - 17-year-old Sunny and the elder Rocky (played wonderfully by Sparsh Shrivastav and Anshumaan Pushkar), both too egoistic and proud to ever work in harmony. The group soon begins to crumble, as opinions start to mismatch.
In spite of all his shortcomings, the viewer finds themselves rooting for Sunny. Despite being the master of the entire racket, he is as righteous as someone from his line of work could practically be. And he is brought alive by Sparsh's amazingly sincere portrayal.
And as if the boys' own issues weren't enough, there enters an influential and manipulative local politician-cum-goon Brajesh Bhan "bhaiya" (Amit Sial). The phishing game becomes bigger and wilder, when Brajesh demands a share in the earnings of the gang, in lieu of "protection". Brajesh is the most dreadful character of Jamtara, whose impact is maintained throughout the series, thanks to Sial's terrific performance.
One way to look at Jamtara is that it is essentially an interconnection of characters from varied socio-economic backgrounds, all vying to turn their life around for better. The phishing boys are trying to break free from dishevelled circumstances, a newly appointed SP (Aksha Pardasany) wishes to make a point by wiping crime, even the phishing victims are looking for a quick fix.
Jamtara was a risky choice for a director, but Padhi does justice to the story in a way that is both involving and entertaining. It is a fresh subject which is executed in a manner that is as addictive as phishing is for the boys. Other actors worth mentioning are Dibyendu Bhattacharya (as Police inspector Biswa) and Monika Panwar (as Gudiya Singh).
As for Netflix India, what the streaming giant couldn't achieve with the help from A-list Bollywood actors and directors (Sacred Games 2, Drive, Ghost Stories), it did through a genuine script and fresh, raw talent. Perhaps it's high time Netflix stops relying on Bollywood!