Created by Hansal Mehta and Mrunmayee Lagoo Waikul, Scoop follows the life of Jagruti Pathak (played by Karishma Tanna), a star investigative journalist for a daily in Mumbai who does whatever she must to get the next exclusive scoop and a by-line on Page One. Known for her extraordinary dossier of sources, she had a foot each in the city’s underworld gangs and the crime branch. Her ambition and winning attitude earns her three promotions in 7 years as well as the envy of her competitors, rival paper editors and subordinates. However, her world is turned upside-down when she’s framed for the murder of a fellow investigative journalist, citing her ambition as motive.
Scoop is based on the biographical memoir, Behind Bars in Byculla: My Days In Prison, of investigative journalist Jigna Vora, who was arrested for the murder of journalist Jyotirmoy Dey. The book explores the power dynamics in prison and what it takes to survive. Creators Mehta and Waikul decided to give us much more – with drama from newsrooms and courthouses – because they found Jagruti Pathak’s character compelling and her story worth telling.
An eerily authentic account of the goings-on in the world of criminal investigation and journalism, Scoop is an entertaining and gripping watch with a solid plotline and gratifying end. Jagruti’s innocence is evident form the beginning, but it is the grave injustice suffered by her constantly, and till the very end, that makes you stick around for sweet, sweet satisfaction.
Scoop isn’t the easiest watch, especially for overtly sensitive hearts. Inhumane scenes in an Indian jail, heart-wrenching moments of familial despair and desperation, and being pushed to one’s last threads of hope and sanity are sprinkled in for good measure. Yet, it is also a chronicle of strength in the direst of times with an ending as rare as a leprechaun in the real world. And it is also a true courtroom drama, in the sense that it portrays an almost accurate image of legal proceedings in lower Indian courts – long breaks between hearings, procedural delays and bureaucracy at its finest.
There are lots of things to enjoy about the show – its super talented cast (we see you, Harman Baweja), well-rounded plots and sub-plots, and dialogues that may have had a slightly forceful start but flow naturally by the end. However, my favourite part of the show is its central theme of the reporter getting reported.
In a tightly-scripted 6-episode series, Scoop gives us the realities of journalism and the news industry in India. The first 2 episodes make it abundantly clear that the ones to get the first scoop are the ones who have excellent sources and have cultivated a relationship with their contacts. Small kickbacks and a general “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” approach is commonplace. However, we very quickly see how far many players in the game are willing to go for a by-line.
There are many show-stopping lines, including a hard-hitting “Lihaaz karte rahenge na sir, toh log channel change kar denge.” (If we show respect then people will change the channel). The rat race to be the first one with an exclusive story blurs the lines of ethics and changes the rules of what constitutes news. Readers are treated as consumers and newspapers become products that will only sell with the most entertaining stories.
Showrunner Hansal Mehta takes this opportunity to comment on the dangers of a “half-cooked story”, of incomplete pieces of information printed with only circumstantial evidence. Jagruti Pathak is on trial by media, an event that has repeated itself multiple times in history. Every single lead – true or false – becomes a sensational story speculating her guilt while we, the viewers, are the only ones who know all the facts.
The conspiracy unravelled during the show is a hotpot of rival gang shootings, corrupt government officials and a cover-up that could go back decades. When key officers at every step of the ladder are in on the joke, there is immense pressure from the top brass not only to make arrests but also to make the arrests they want. Scoop is very good at unveiling how everyone has their own agenda to push, whether during the investigation, in the court or in the media. And in this process, they bend and manipulate the evidence (re. truth) in a way that solely suits them.
And Scoop doesn’t stop there. It sheds light on one of the biggest threats to democracy – the murders, arrests and/or kidnappings of 102 journalists since 2000. Journalists today live in a state of suspended terror for getting caught in the wrong place or asking too many questions. With conspiracies and cover-ups ruling the world, those who aim to reveal the truth are the ones who suffer.
Hansal Mehta and Mrunmayee Lagoo Waikul have given us a brilliantly thought-provoking piece of Indian television and an incredible insight into the world of journalism. All episodes of Scoop are now available to stream on Netflix!