Either Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying — Scam 1992, The Harshad Mehta story

My friend & work-mentor, Sri Chukka (Suresh kumar), once mentioned about an article — “Egg on John Bull’s head” — In 1990s, a hean-honcho of a firm in London was attempting to build a grand stock market trading system in a big-bang approach and how it boomeranged back on him, eventually led to his resignation & collapse of that project. The point Chukka was driving — “Things are becoming more complex and multi layered in the stock arena; no single entity can claim a control over the entire system that is synonym for the word Chaos”.

Forget about the control, not even a complete grasp of the subject is possible in such complex systems. Yes, My dear that is the crux of this web series.

I was working in Mumbai amidst stock market operations for 6 years. I have seen the manipulative sides of the brokers, how they would cheat the system and all its players. Until the advent of online/transparency trading, clients were regularly cheated by the broking community across India, by & large — Under/over invoicing, Badla, short trading, insider trading, criminal collusion across the spectrum etc. To a greater extent, some of those problems were alleviated with the advent of online trading. Still, some of the larger systemic problems continue to exist and provides an opportunity for the big-time sharks to claim their bite, sometimes very deep and leads to the bleeding of the system too. Eventually, the poor investor suffers the most.

Director Hansal Mehta has to be given the credit for doing enough on this topic. A 2.5 hour movie would not have been suffice. He has covered all the aspects and ensured that spotlight shined on Harshad Mehta continuously. One request; I would love to hear more about the psychology behind HM’s criminal mind. If you had seen the “real” HM, you may or may not like him; But, this “reel” one is really adorable. Like an ace director of Malayalam movies, Hansal has left the judgement about HM to the viewer. Neither the hero part nor the villain part is outdoing each other. A balance has been attempted and has been achieved with a great aplomb.

What else, I can say about the man, who donned this role? Pratik Gandhi is the find of the year and in a way, he has brought a softness to the character and made HM more likeable. That itself is a victory for this stage actor. His killer smile and the beam that brings it on HM’s face is a pleasant surprise. He eliminates the typical slam-bang hero worship of Bollywood and exposes us to the reality/vagaries of the life. He takes a viswa-roopam in the screen at all times, either being jubiliant or worried or melancholic or scheming. He simply carried the series on his smile alone.

Having been fed on pink newspapers, Sucheta Dalal was our favourite in those times. All the time she was exposing one scandal or other. Here, Shreya has seamlessly fitted into the role and elevates the acting quotient in each screen. Her chemistry with her colleague/boy friend was endearing.

Some of the supporting characters — HM’s wife, his brother, his collegue Bhushan, Broker Manubhai, RBI governor S.Venkitramanan, Tyagu of Citibank and many more have supported hugely the main cast in this web series.

Those, who are students of stock market/history like me will cherish this documented history of the one of biggest scams of our times — How RBI failed to tame the bull, how the banks were hoodwinking us, how the high flying brokers were exploiting the system, how the small investors were taken for a rough-shod ride etc

Some of the aerial shots of Amchi Mumbai is mouth-watering and outstanding. The denizens of Mumbai will love that.

What I really liked is the melodrama that comes in the end part of the series and a dose of philosophical approach in the grand end.

Yes, as the Morgan Freeman/Red says in the movie “The Shawshank Redemption”, “Either, get busy living or get busy dying!”. That summarize the life of Harshad Mehta in this web series. He got busy living or dying at all times in his adult life.

Great Job Team!