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'Scam 1992' Review: A chronicle scam saga of the rise & the fall of 'The Big Bull'!
Saturday, October 10, 2020 15:27 IST
By Santa Banta News Network
Cast: Pratik Gandhi, Shreya Dhanwanthary, Satish Kaushik, Ananth Narayan Mahadevan, Rajat Kapoor

Director: Hansal Mehta

Rating: ****

Platform: SonyLIV

Way before 'the wolf of the wall street' Jordan Belfort, there was a 'big bull' Harshad Mehta who used bank securities money to drive up the prices of stocks in the stock market. Well, 'like anywhere else in the world ingenious criminal minds went on to subvert these systems and scams continued', last lines recited by Padma Shri Suchita Dalal on Harshad's scam 1992. A scandal by Harshad Mehta that exposed the loopholes in the Indian banking system, Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) transaction system. A man behind whom ample no of agencies (RBI, CBI, IT, ED, JPC) was there to verdict him until he died in late 2001 at the age of 47. With the book adaptation of 'The Scam: Who Won, Who Lost, Who Got Away', Hansal Mehta has come up with 'Scam 1992: The Hansal Mehta Story', where he unfolds several unknown facts about the scamster Harshad with his clever mind on the inside trading.

Before the time of mobiles, internet and social media everything moved at its own sweet peace. Be it the economy of the country or the paperwork at the government offices and even breaking news. If there was speed, it was only at the Bombay Stock Exchange. For the first time, the common man was trying to change his faith through the share market, and in this glittering share market, everyone was blinded by the promise of profit. A promise that was so great that it hid the white lies, which shook the very foundation of the Indian economy. But the actual story starts with a fateful day on April 22nd, 1992, Bombay.

When a terrified man named Sharad Bellary from SBI looks for an editor in the 'Times of India' office and meets the very popular common man RK Laxman. Sharad asks him to listen as he has some confidential information but RK Laxman takes him to Kiran Ajgaonkar, the business editor. Hesitatingly he explains to him about the SBI scam but Kiran doesn't understand the financial terms used by Sharad and suggests him to meet Sucheta Dalal (Shreya Dhanwanthary), the financial editor. To Suchita, Sharad unveils the fishing going in the SBI and tells her that '500 crores are missing from the books of SBI and the bank issuing the cheque without any BR, there is no SGL note either, In the PDO the books aren't tallying'. When Succhita asks him who is behind all the scam, horrified Sharad takes the name of Harshad Mehta.

Harshad Mehta (Pratik Gandhi), a boy who loves cricket, Garba, and love to his live happily but his father's failed clothing business burdened him with responsibilities and Harshad did many odd jobs to help run the house whether it was a clerical job or plastic, cement, and diamonds, but the money was never enough because Harshad's dreams were much bigger than his small income. One day, Harshad decides to start his career in the share market and with the vision starts working as a jobber under the supervision of Ambalal Shaeb and meets his colleague Bhushan Bhatt who introduce him to Pranav Sheth, the bull of the market and Black Cobra aka Manu Mundra (Satish Kaushik), the bear of the market. After working for a few times as a jobber, Harshad decides with his brother Ashwin Mehta to start their own trading account. But Harshad's father Shantilal Mehta wasn't happy with their decision of quitting the job and fell deep into the curse of the share market.

But still, the Mehta brothers play their market game on several small holding companies, which turns out profitable for their shareholders and themselves. But Black Cobra became aware of their market game and as a bear, he bought the reliance shares which automatically affected the shares owned by Mehta brothers. Mehta brothers faced the loss of Rs.10 lakh which resulted in the freezing of their trading account from the stock market. After the incident, no one was ready to trust the Mehta's and this phase introduced a new chapter in his life and Harshad started a new company name Growmore with his brother, a consulting company that would help the shareholders to invest in the profitable stocks.

With rapid growth, his consulting company reaches a new height and to handle more work, Mehta brings his jobber friend Bhushan Bhatt in his company. The success graph goes up with each passing year and Pranav Sheth showed him the bright side of the money market. Unaware of his future faith, Harshad enters into the money market and starts dealing with the public bank. But the table turns when Harshad decided to bring the money market and share market together. Well, he went further into inside trading which is illegal in India. Irrespective of gain and loss, Harshad was minting profits and growing like a big bull.

Just like in the stock market, the bull meets with many bears who try to confront him, and ultimately, Suchita Dalal gets to know about the scam he was involved in, and finally, on 23rd April 1992 Suchita exposed Harshad and his luxurious empire in the columns of Times of India.

While remaining true to journalist Sucheta Dalal and her co-writer Debashish Basu's book, director Hansal's deeply authentic series explores Harshad's family, his relationship with chief players of the stock exchange in more depth and detail. What Hansal has done is to open up the Harshad Mehta saga, denuding it of any admirable aura but nonetheless retaining the basic dignity of a saga that changed the way the Indian middle-class looked at the money. As a director, Hansal Mehta adapted the books 'The Scam: Who Won, Who Lost, Who Got Away' in a very well mannered and proved once again that he is one of the Bollywood directors who went deep down into the crux of the story and presented it intelligently.

Screenplay by Sumit Purohit, Saurav Dev didn't attempt to present Harshad Mehta as a hero on the screen. They rather serve the audience with a harsh reality of Harshad Mehta's life, his rising & falling empire. He had passions about the share market and greed to become the wealthiest man. Apart from the scam part, both the writers focus on the personal life of Harshad and Suchitra Dalal, respectively.

'Problems and Hacks, Sweets and Snacks nobody can take these away from a Gujarati', a dialogue recited by Pratik Gandhi, who perfectly adopts the passion, body language, emotions, and smartness of Harshad Mehta. Shreya Dhanwanthary in Suchita Dalal sharply indulges into the financial journalist role. Satish Kaushik, Ananth Narayan Mahadevan, Rajat Kapoor have also stuck to their acting skills and gave their best performances. Other star casts have also done justice with their respective roles but the bull that hits the eye is none-other than Pratik Gandhi. Hansal Mehta has also surprised his fans with his cameo in the series.

The series is a compilation of nine episodes with a duration of 1 hour each, well, looks quite long but editor Sumit Purohit and Kunal Walve have sharply edited this 9 hours long series and wouldn't give a chance to move you from your seat. Dialogue by Karan Vyas is sharply written and fits well with the series' characters.

The series is a perfect genre for those who are into the stock market, financial business but for the masala entertainment audience, this series is not an easy cup of tea.

Talking about music and sound design, then Achint Thakkar has composed the music tremendously and the intro theme music is the soul of the series and wouldn't allow you to skip the part as you early want to listen to it, it's that much intriguing. On the other side, sound design by Abhishek Nair, Shijin Hutton goes with the flow with Harshad Mehta's story and easily connects you with his life journey.

Talking about the Applause Entertainment Ltd, then the production house must get applause for producing such an unforgettable series. From original series to Indian adaptation of popular international shows, Applause Entertainment is investing in unique content for the digital platforms whether it is Disney+Hotstar's 'Criminal Justice', 'Hostages', Netflix's 'Hasmukh', MX Player's 'Bhaukaal' or SonyLIV's 'Avrodh - The siege within' and others. The production house has offered critically acclaimed shows on various OTT platforms and now with 'Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story', proved once again that the house believes in producing international quality content.

All in all, this isn't just a story about India's biggest financial scam but it is about the dreams that were lived by Harshad Mehta, his visions. A story that takes a spin from 1979, Ghathopar, Bombay to following a brief heart ailment of Harshad, at the age of 47, on 31 December 2001, Harshad died with many litigations still pending against him. A journey starts from a Market watchdog to ending his share market journey while banning him from stock market-related activities, Hansal Mehta has presented the best adaption till the time. The one who was India's highest advance taxpayer in 1992 and his personal holding was 4,000 crores at the time of inflation when the country was suffering from inflation. If adjusted for inflation today, this number would be over 20,000 crores. So the question is how, did a boy from a lower-middle-class family earn so much money, in such a short time? Well, for this you have to watch this scam saga by Hansal Mehta!
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