'Scoop' review: Hansal Mehta crafts a brilliant thriller based on real events

The story is inspired by the life of journalist Jigna Vora


In 2011, senior crime reporter Jigna Vora was arrested by Mumbai Police during the investigation into the murder of journalist Jyotirmoy Dey. Dey was murdered in broad daylight by unidentified assailants in Powai in Mumbai, and later, links of his murder with underworld don Chhota Rajan emerged. Vora, a single parent, spent nine months in prison before acquiring bail. In the chargesheet filed, the police had accused Vora of providing Chhota Rajan details of Dey’s address and vehicle registration number when in reality she had only approached Rajan for an interview. 

Vora was cleared of all charges after seven years, in 2018. In 2019, she narrated her story in 'Behind Bars in Byculla: My Days in Prison' which inspired Hansal Mehta to make a masterpiece inspired by her life and story. 

The much-anticipated web series Scoop, which was released on Netflix on June 2, finds its inspiration from the case. Helmed by Hansal Mehta, the series stars Karishma Tanna as journalist Jagruti Pathak, modelled after Vora. 

Whenever Hansal Mehta has chosen to narrate a story, he has done so with daring honesty and bluntness that few filmmakers choose to display. City Lights, Omerta, Scam 1992, and Aligarh have shocked and stunned audiences not just with the naked display of truths in the storytelling, but also with some stellar performances. Mehta knows how to mold an actor in a role to make it look like the role was tailor-made for the actor. He displays this streak of excellence with Karishma Tanna as she plays the spunky journalist Pathak.

From the pressures of breaking a story first, keeping sources close and unidentified, and chasing senior cops for exclusives, to the rivalry and the attacks on journalists for telling the truth, Mehta closely follows the life of a journalist and the culture of a newsroom, the excitement of breaking a story before anyone else and the disappointments of missing out a development in editions. His vision and understanding of a journalistic approach are passed on to his actor Karishma Tanna who delivers her career-best performance as Pathak. She chases her leads, keeps her sources close, and is always looking to break exclusives. The series goes on to show her trials and tribulations as awaits her release from Byculla Jail for nine months. 

Mehta also extracts some attention-drawing performances from the likes of Harman Baweja and Deven Bhojani who return to the screen after years. Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub and Tannishtha Chatterjee show onscreen what is it like to head a newsroom. Ayyub holds the act together till the end, believing in the framed journalist’s innocence and fighting for the truth alone. Harman Baweja’s cop act proves he has matured as an actor and is open to versatile roles on screen, moving away from his boy next door image.

The well-researched series is a winner for its true-to-life portrayal of facts and events, even though it insists that it is merely inspired by the case of Vora. It was only in 2018 that Chhota Rajan and eight others were sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of journalist Dey, and Jigna Vora was acquitted, not only robbing her of her career when she was at the peak of her career but also leaving a deep scar that is unlikely to heal for a long time. 

Scoop is a homage to journalists who have lost their lives because of the work they do. It not only brings on screen the rot in the system that leads to a failure more often than not but also highlights how in the race for an exclusive story, fake news can damage a whole system and more importantly, a person’s life and career. The courageous storytelling ends with a spine-chilling final credit that displays pictures of the likes of Gauri Lankesh who have been killed for their journalism. 

Series: Scoop

Platform: Netflix

Language: Hindi

Director: Hansal Mehta

Cast: Karishma Tanna, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Harman Baweja, Prosenjit Chatterjee

Rating: 4.5/5

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