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Sacred Games: Season 1 Episode 3 Recap - Atapi Vatapi

Things are heating up in the hunt for clues about what is going to happen to Mumbai in this episode of Sacred Games.

Sacred Games: Season 1 Episode 3 Recap - Atapi Vatapi

Let’s not waste time. Anjali is picking up right where we left off. She calls for back up. Mathu is rushed to the hospital. We see a distant view where the unknown shooter is watching from afar. He knows that Mathu is alive. Uh oh.

Sartaj has found the girl’s house and let’s Anjali know about this. 

Anjali is at the hospital making arrangements for Mathu. She is leaving when a man dressed as a doctor walks in. This is the unknown shooter man! Poor Mathu, I don’t think he’s going to make it. And I’m right. 

This seems a bit inconsistent though. The shooter already shot everyone else in the house. And the scene with Gaitonde was at least 2 days ago. So why did unknown shooter camp out and wait for two days instead of just going in, killing Mathu and being done with it? He just likes complicating things? Or getting caught by RAW? Hmm…maybe there’s a reason that’ll get explained later, but it’s unlikely. I think this is one of those moments when you say “Ah Bollywood”, shrug and move on. 

Majid and Sartaj are both in Jojo’s house. Jojo is the dead girl from the first episode and also the person the Bollywood celebrity (did they mention her name? I didn’t catch it.) was looking for. Things are tense between Majid and Sartaj. Their professional rivalry is obvious. 

Anjali was desperately trying to find a way in to this case. Jojo’s apartment with stacks of cash has given her the reason she is looking for. RAW is working on a huge fake currency case and there’s enough fake currency here for Donald Trump to build his wall with Mexico. Jojo, it is explained, is a pimp running a high end prostitution racket masquerading as a scout looking for talent. Ah…that’s where the actor comes in. She must’ve been a prostitute who became a successful actor. More power to her!

But there are more women on Jojo’s list.

The first actor that Sartaj tracks is a woman named Nayanika who works in TV serials. She is too scared to talk and refuses to name her clients when Sartaj finds her at a set. After her shoot, she leaves and Sartaj begins to stalk her (this guy is a bit creepy that way). She goes to a house and rings the bell, but no one answers. She leaves and Sartaj and Katekar decide to break in and investigate. 

They find kinky sex stuff - S&M enablers and other sex toys. This is a place where at least part of the sex racket is run out of. And this becomes evident in the next scene when Sartaj finds a video of Nayanika and Bunty having rough sex. 

Bunty. A friend of Gaitonde’s. And from this point, Gaitonde takes over. 

Bunty is the “muscle” of Gaitonde’s gang. He’s fierce, reckless, loyal and willing to die for Gaitonde. Bunty’s own sister seems to be a sex worker (or so he insinuates while hitting her). This man is very violent with women it seems. 

Gaitonde, Bunty and the rest of the gang go to the same nightclub which turned them away earlier. But now, they have the “influence” and no one denies them entry. The star performer of the nightclub is Cuckoo. Sometimes I think for all his disdain with Bollywood, Anurag Kashyap can't resist putting in item numbers in his shows in these subtle ways. Cuckoo is Isa’s girlfriend. Isa rules Bombay. 

Gaitonde is attracted to her instantly and realises a truth - Rule Cuckoo. Rule Bombay.

As he is waxing eloquent about those days in Bombay and his unfortunate future in VO, we see Pankaj Tripathi preaching to a bunch of people. I have no clue what he’s doing here, but any scene with Pankaj Tripathi is generally a rewarding one. 

Dressed like a sage, he tells his students about Atapi and Vatapi. That is also the title of this episode. Atapi and Vatapi are two brothers who welcome tired travellers into their house and then kill them for sport. While this story is being told, we see Bombay burning with religious tensions. Maybe Atapi Vatapi is a metaphor for religion - how it comes into your life as a support when you’re tired. But ultimately it destroys you. 

We also see Bunty’s sister sleeping with Chhote, a Muslim member of Gaitonde’s gang. 

Gaitonde and Isa’s gang rivalries continue with a show down one night at the nightclub over Cuckoo. Isa is a cool dude. When 10 of Gaitonde’s men are pointing guns at him, he doesn't pick up a weapon and doesn’t flinch. He’s calm and unblinking. I like him. 

As the commotion clears, Isa realises that Cuckoo is missing. That was smooth G! Getting Cuckoo to leave Isa and come with him adds to Gaitonde’s street cred. Not to mention, he falls deeply in love with her.

At his birthday celebration, Gaitonde meets Bhonsle who at this point is a small time politician. Parulkar is also present along with Trivedi (the mystery man!) who’s planning to contest an election. Whatever is going on in present day with Gaitonde, it is obvious that Parulkar knows a lot more than he is letting on. 

Speaking of present day…

Bhonsle who is now Home Minister is checking up on Trivedi, shredding papers in his office and generally being an all round dick. We see him shredding a photo of a sardar and I’m guessing this is Sartaj’s father, Dilbagh Singh. 

Parulkar meanwhile shares information with Majid and asks him to check up on Trivedi (who’s been AWOL). He also meets with the Bollywood celebrity who wants her file from Jojo’s apartment. Parulkar can’t do anything because the house is seized by RAW and not the Mumbai Police. 

Meanwhile, Sartaj goes to Nayanika’s house and asks her to turn on Bunty in exchange for protection. He takes her to Anjali so RAW can provide her with the protection she needs. Nayanika tells them that Bunty is eager to leave Mumbai and he has one last task to finish before he gets out of here. Whatever is happening in twenty something days, Bunty definitely knows about it. 

Anjali comes up with a plan to use Nayanika as bait to get to Bunty. Nayanika and Sartaj both have WTF expressions. And seriously, this is very unethical! Instead of giving this poor, scared girl protection, Anjali wants to send the lamb to the slaughterhouse! Terrible.

The actor who’s referred to by her name (finally!), Zoya, goes to see her boyfriend who’s also an actor. He has seen Jojo’s death on TV and has put two and two together. He realises that Jojo was probably Zoya’s pimp because he knows that they were really good friends. Zoya needs to get out of this toxic relationship ASAP! And she’s trying, but while snorting cocaine, the boyfriend threatens her. He tells her that he will expose the connection and the fact that Zoya was a sex worker unless she toes the line (whatever that means, asshole).

Nayanika has agreed to Anjali’s psycho plan. I just don’t understand how this is a legitimate plan. It is unethical, amoral and probably illegal. The show ends on this ridiculous cliffhanger. 

Atapi Vatapi is interesting for the themes it explores. I wonder if Atapi Vatapi is a metaphor for the internal struggle we all face. We all hold on to parts of ourselves that we think help and protect us. But perhaps all they’re really doing is spelling out our doom. Whether its Gaitonde’s criminality, Sartaj’s honesty, Anjali’s search for the truth or Zoya’s secrets. 

Episode Rating: 3/5