In his 2012 collection of essays, How To Read A Novelist, noted American writer and literary critic John Freeman called Vikram Chandra’s Sacred Games “a terrific, brilliant, earth mover of a book, Crime And Punishment crossed with The Godfather, with some Sopranos-style irony thrown in to boot.” More than 10 years later, Chandra’s most famous work, which Freeman called “one of the Booker Prize’s most glaring omissions in its 40-year history”, is about to get some serious pop-culture muscle thrown behind it, as it becomes streaming giant Netflix’s first Indian production.
Set to release today, it stars Saif Ali Khan in the lead role, as inspector Sartaj Singh, across from key antagonist Ganesh Gaitonde, played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Singh, a down-on-his-luck cop facing a career slump and imminent divorce, first made his appearance in Chandra’s Love And Longing In Bombay, and the story began to develop in Chandra’s mind, growing until he felt he could no longer contain it within an existing collection.
He thought it may develop into a novella, but the constantly evolving characters had other plans, and the masterful organised crime novel that inspired so many others, was born. With high expectations pinned on the web series, we spoke to the author about some of his own favourite book-to-screen adaptations.