Review | Scoop – Journo & Cops On The Mat

"Scoop" is a courtroom drama series created by Hansal Mehta. It features Karishma Tanna, Harman Baweja and Prosenjit Chattejee. It is now streaming on Netflix.

General Rating

In a nut-shell:

Journo & Cops On The Mat

Director and show creator Hansal Mehta has tasted blood after ‘Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story’ which followed finance journalist Sucheta Dalal into the stock market. His inspiration this time is once again Gujju territory, a book and the newspaper world as he films Page One crime beat journalist Jigna Vora’s murky arrest for the murder of J Dey, her senior in the cops-and-gangsters vortex.  

Based on Jigna’s book ‘Behind Bars in Byculla: My Days in Prison’, Hansal tweaks the names of the journalists and the policemen they bond with to get their scoops but stays true to the ambience of the rustle and bustle of a newspaper office. Ambitions are high enough to teeter into ruthlessness and cornering sources in the police department to get their inside stories, even being possessive of them, is par for the course.

Hansal and his team of writers (Mrunmayee Lagoo Waikul, Mirat Trivedi and Anu Singh Choudhary with dialogues by Karan Vyas) get the vibe right – the daily buzz of the newsroom, the scribes and their equation with sources in the police department and in the underworld, and the petty need for front-page attention which rival dailies keep a close watch on. 

A question mark lingers on how Jagruti Pathak (as Jigna is called in the show) gets her exclusive with Chhota Rajan or why this criminal takes the rap for gangster killings he hasn’t ordered. 

Jail notes are always stomach churning and Hansal takes his camera in. The grime of life in prison, its own power dynamics (there’s Sadhvi power too on display) and Jagruti’s spiritedness breaking only to surface intermittently. Tejaswini Kolhapure gives life behind bars its moments of unease in the tiny, wicked role of an imprisoned widow who got her own matka-running husband murdered. A true story that had blazed headlines once upon a time when people read newspapers and entirely credible that Jagruti who scooped her story is now face to face with her in jail. These are the moments when fact seem so much like fiction.

It’s no better outside jail. The Crime Branch bullying other reporters and intimidating friends to establish Jagruti’s underworld links topped a dog-eat-dog world when her own tribe gleefully scoops stories on her. A successful woman journalist is a soft target for insinuation – sleeping with her boss, a top cop and Chhota Rajan too, is the only route she could’ve taken for her quick climb to the Deputy Bureau’s cabin.

Like the Parsees had thrown their might behind Commander Nanavati for the murder of his wife’s lover in the 1950s, parochial support comes for Jagruti when vanloads of Gujjus land in court. Deven Bhojani as the solicitous uncle lends dhokla-level authenticity to Jagruti’s Gujju family though the arrival of the ‘Jai Shree Krishna’ gang with chants on their lips is a bit of a caricature.  

What is starkly engrossing are the two main pivots: one, a journalist’s horror at finding herself in the heart of a murder conspiracy and her battle to win freedom. Two, the real-life friction between the IB and the Mumbai Police where the latter has often been whispered to be going out on a limb to shield Dawood Ibrahim. This is where Hansal is at his best as Jagruti, sucked in by a system she’s been a part of, ends up questioning her own ethics.  

But, although he does makes references that indict the Mumbai Police and its cover-up ops for Dawood, you can see Hansal pulling his punches. Contrary to the real-life court verdict that let off Jigna and pronounced gangster Chhota Rajan guilty, Hansal’s show puts the Mumbai Police in the dock. For the conspiracy against Jagruti that was hatched by hefty names in the department who desperately sought to cover their own connections with the underworld. But it does come off as a bit unbaked. Since Hansal can’t divulge their real identities, he is unable to wind up with a flourish and sign off with what happened to those officers after Jigna/Jagruti walked free. You’re left imagining if Shroff was indeed a senior cancer-afflicted officer we all knew who finally put a bullet through his head. 

Karishma Tanna makes an easy fit as Jagruti. After that excellent performance as Shrikant Roy in Jubilee, Prosenjit Chatterjee has a smaller role as Jaideb Sen, the senior crime journalist who’s murdered. But he’s effective, as always. The surprise is Harman Baweja as the many-shaded JCP Shroff, once Jagruti’s favourite source, now the man who builds the biggest conspiracy to convict her.   

Extremely watchable for its insights into the crime world of journos and cops. But by finishing with a gallery of journalists that include Gauri Lankesh, Gautam Navlakha and Siddique Kappan, all killed or arrested for serious crimes like sedition and terror, cases that have no connection with ‘Scoop’, wonder why Hansal had to force his politics where it doesn’t really fit in. 

Watch the trailer of Scoop:

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Journo & Cops On The MatReview | Scoop - Journo & Cops On The Mat