REVIEW: Second season of Sacred Games mirrors the ills of today's India

Updated 18 August 2019
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REVIEW: Second season of Sacred Games mirrors the ills of today's India

CHENNAI: The first season of “Sacred Games” last year was a hit, and the second edition, which began streaming on Netflix on Aug. 15, may be even more so.

The eight episodes explore some of India's most pressing current issues such as a nuclear threat, terrorism and inter-religious animosity dating back to the country's 1947 partition. It. It also addresses how religious men can indulge in the most unholy of acts, including helping corrupt politicians.

Some of the greatest films have had conflict and war as their backdrop: “Gone with the Wind,” “Casablanca,” “Ben-Hur” and “Garam Hawa,” to mention a few. The second season of “Sacred Games” also unfolds in such a scenario, with terrorism and inter-communal disharmony having a rippling effect on the nation.

Directed by Anurag Kashyap (“Gangs of Wasseypur,” “Black Friday”) and Neeraj Ghaywan (“Masaan,” which premiered at Cannes in 2015), the web series, based on Vikram Chandra's 2006 novel, unfolds with Ganesh Gaitonde (played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui) escaping from prison and finding himself in Mombasa. He has been carted there by an agent of India's

Research and Analysis Wing, Kusum Devi Yadav (Amruta Subhash), who forces him to help find Shahid Khan (Ranvir Shorey), the mastermind behind bomb blasts and terror attacks.

In Mumbai, police inspector Sartaj (Saif Ali Khan) has just two weeks to save the city from a nuclear attack, which Gaitonde had warned him about. Both men love Mumbai and do not want it to be destroyed. But religious extremist Khanna Guruji (Pankaj Tripathi) and his chief disciple Batya Ableman (Kalki Koechlin) believe that only such a catastrophic destruction can help cleanse society and bring a cleaner, saner new order.

A narrative of deceit, betrayal, love and longing, the second season has a plodding start, but picks up steam from the fourth episode, with Sartaj and his men racing against time to find a nuclear time bomb that could wipe out Mumbai. Crude dialogue and a constant doomsday atmosphere could have been avoided, but riveting performances by the lead pair – Khan and Siddiqui (though he is getting typecast in this kind of role) – and nail-biting thrills make this Netflix original dramatically captivating.


Facebook taps London police to track terror livestreams

Updated 3 min 51 sec ago
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Facebook taps London police to track terror livestreams

LONDON: Facebook on Tuesday teamed up with the London police to help its artificial intelligence tools track livestreams of terror attacks such as the New Zealand mosque massacre.
In March, a self-professed white supremacist used a head-mounted camera to broadcast live footage on Facebook of him attacking two mosques in the city of Christchurch.
Facebook and platforms such as YouTube came under intense criticism for initially failing to detect the broadcast and then struggling to take down its uploads that proliferated online.
New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern and other world leaders in May launched a “Christchurch Call to Action” against online extremism — a campaign Facebook and other major platforms quickly joined later that month.
The California-based social media behemoth said Tuesday it was in the process of updating its policies for dealing with extremism and online hate.
“Some of these changes predate the tragic terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, but that attack, and the global response to it in the form of the Christchurch Call to Action, has strongly influenced the recent updates to our policies and their enforcement.”
London’s Metropolitan Police said the initiative will see it start providing Facebook in October with footage of training by its forearms command unit.
The videos will be captured on body cameras provided by Facebook that officers wear during exercises.
This will help Facebook “capture the volume of images needed to train our machine learning tools,” the company said.
“This will mean our AI tools will be able to more accurately and rapidly identify real life first person shooter incidents and remove them from our platform.”
The London police said its footage will be combined with video Facebook is already using from law enforcement agencies in the United States.
This technology will “also significantly help prevent the glorification of such acts and the promotion of the toxic ideologies that drive them,” Britain’s Special Operations assistant commissioner Neil Basu said.
The Metropolitan Police said Facebook decided to ask London for help because it has created the world’s first counter-terror Internet response team focused on online hate.
The speed with which the videos spread and Facebook’s initial inability to track them all down redoubled public and government scrutiny of the world’s biggest social media company.
The Christchurch images were broadcast live for 17 minutes — and remained online for a further 12 minutes — before Facebook was alerted by a user and took it down.
Yet millions of upload and shares continued to spread online for days.
Facebook on Tuesday defended its track record but conceded that “bad actors will continue to try to get around our systems.”
It reported banning 200 white supremacist organizations and removing 26 million “pieces of content” or terrorist organization such as the Islamic State.
Facebook said Tuesday that it was also expanding to Australia and Indonesia a US program in which users who search for extremist content on the platform are directed to a special support group.
The US group was “founded by former violent extremists that provides crisis intervention, education, support groups and outreach,” Facebook said.