Sacred Games is about men. Men of dog eat dog world. Men who have arisen from toxic masculinity or have gone through a treacherous childhood. Men who are taking a step forward to do something good when the world is pulling them down at every step. Men who are content with their lives but aren’t broad-minded. Some are bigot while some are guns for hire who won’t stop at nothing. Some are just cold-blooded murderers. Some are just looking for their own gain even if it means starting communal riots.
Let’s talk about non-male characters and how they shaped male domination in this series.
Ganesh becomes Gaitonde when he murders his mom. His mom sleeping his someone ignites his rage into becoming something different that he hasn’t hoped for. His innocence is lost. His mom is the catalyst for his change. He isn’t the boy anymore.
Sartaj Singh is nothing at the start of the the series. He’s a failure both personally and professionally. His only achievement is catching a pick-pocketer before Gaitonde actively comes into his life. His wife has left him. He still reminisces about her. His house looks empty. He has no-one to come home to. Chasing Gaitonde and knowing more about him becomes his mission. And Anjali Mathur on seeing a man who’s focused on his work unlike his colleagues or other officers sees the chance to align with him.
Anjali Mathur is a no-nonsense officer. She wants to step up in the bastion of male domination without caring about her life knowing fully that she lost her father while doing duty in the thick of action. She doesn’t wanna sit behind a desk. She dies a valiant death. She becomes a collateral in the tussle. A major pawn in unearthing the deeper secrets of the series.
Kanta Bai is the Godmother. She is practical. Nobody owns her. She’s the yang of Mumbai which is bustling with gangsters and thugs. She makes her own living by running a desi liquor adda with the tongue of a scorpion and the stature of a fierce lioness. She is unbreachable. She urges Ganesh Gaitonde to dare and dream big. She’s the second women in Gaitonde’s life who makes a major impact on shaping him. She even tells Gaitonde to get out of his dick and focus on the things at hand. She’s a pragmatist. Men tend to be driven by their egos and the fear that they wanna create, and thus can be stuck in the own world. Kanta Bai is the reality check. She is the eye-opener. She reminds Bunty not to be cruel and abusive to her sister. At the same time when Chhota Badariya gets shot by Gaitionde, she doesn’t show an iota of remorse on her face. She behaves as if nothing happened. She’s the only character in the whole series who’s control of her own mind. She doesn’t blink in stating the obvious.
Subhadra who becomes the wife of Gaitonde is religious and believes in higher power and almighty. She becomes his bedrock after Gaitonde was down in dumps emotionally. She understands the value of religion and the impact of it in poor people’s lives. Common people can’t afford to go to dance-clubs and hence make the whole town their dance-club and engage in merry making during Ganesh Chaturthi, she explains. The whole show shows how men use religion as a tool for violence, and for political gains. But she as a character who believes in God as in almighty and not a mortal being, and explains with reason how religion is a shield, shelter and a way of life in this atrocious life.
Cuckoo is the red cherry (at the top of a cake) of Mumbai. To be powerful and invincible you need Cuckoo’s magic. That’s what everybody sees. Not because she a different sexual orientation but she carries an aura around her. We as outsiders and viewers have always seen Mumbai as some kind of fantasy land and Cuckoo serves as the launch-pad for what we believe. She’s the expensive jewellery that we’re staring through a window pane. She’s glittery and irresistible. But she’s fragile as a glass too. And she breaks down at a crucial moment in the series. She’s signifies the microcosm of Mumbai that is glamourous, alluring and at the same time can fall apart like a deck of cards. She is an Eiffel Tower for Gaitonde to climb. In fact, she is the only one that Gaitonde wants to have at any cost. Gaitonde falls in love with her. He doesn’t kiss her as he is shorter in height and she has to bend to kiss him. He stands on a stool to kiss her. Cuckoo is more than a romantic fling or attachment for Gaitonde. Cuckoo is the idea of Mumbai for Gaitonde and he respects her more than anything else. Cuckoo dictates her own terms and Gaitonde abides by her. Cuckoo is the emotional support as well as the brooding masculinity for Gaitonde. But then she dies and Gaitonde declares himself as God. The shackle is broken and he has lost his only deity that he used to preach. Now, he has to project the power of almighty and so, he declares himself such.
Mikki as Bunty’s sister is the bee that can sting back even while born in a highly toxic masculine world. She doesn’t bow down to her brother’s tantrums and replies back with her razor sharp tongue. She throws arrows the same way her brother treats her. She is the boomerang of the man’s world.
Zoya Mirza is the seducer who uses her femininity to become a star and proceed further in the glamour business. She uses DCP Parulkar to get rid of her co-actor who was bothering her and very cunningly so. She uses her charm to get her work done. She’s the Menaka of this series.
Nayanika Sehgal is a Goddess in a TV show whereas she’s treated like a puppet by Bunty outside her TV world. She portrays the women of India broadly. Women who are projected as Goddess Durga and such but are powerless in the hands of common men who control them like a remote.
Shalini as Katekar’s wife is dutiful and gives her husband the benefit of doubt. She takes care of household when her husband is hobbling with Sartaj Singh.
Jojo Mascarenhas while being murdered by Gaitonde asserts how she made of him all these years.
The series is about men and how they display their masculinity and their arduous display of power. But it’s the women who provoke or shape them or make them chase them in this show. Women stand in the backdrop and it’s through them that men get into a tussle or move further while unraveling the suspense. In a man’s game, it’s the women who are responsible for changing the fortunes of men and the graph of the story like when Paritosh gets killed when the prostitute engages Bunty in ciotus with her.