Scam 2003: The Telgi Story Pilot Review: Gagan Dev Riar As Abdul Karim Telgi Holds Up This Slow Paced Drama

It's a must-watch!

Over the years, India has been rocked by several shocking financial scams. Filmmaker Hansal Mehta brought one such story of a scam in 2020 with Pratik Gandhi starrer series Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story based on the 1992 Indian stock marketing scam. And now the filmmaker is back with the story of another shocking financial scam that took place in 2003. Releasing on SonyLIV on September 1, Scam 2003: The Telgi Story (produced by Applause Entertainment) is a biographical thriller based on Abdul Karim Telgi’s story.

Directed by Tushar Hiranandani and helmed by Hansal Mehta as the co-director, this series is based on the book Telgi Scam: Reporter Ki Diary, written by Sanjay Singh. This series of Hansal Mehta’s Scam franchise follows the story of the 2003 Indian Stamp Paper Counterfeiting scam committed by Abdul Karim Telgi of a whopping Rs 30,000 crore. It follows Abdul Karim Telgi as he steps into the world of white-collar crimes. What started as making fake passports soon turned into stealing stamp papers to profit off them and then into making counterfeit stamp papers. What makes this scam even more shocking is the fact that Telgi employed up to 300 people to sell his counterfeit stamp papers and regularly bribed several police personnel and politicians who provided him with aid.

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Scam 2003: The Telgi Story stars Gagan Dev Riar as Abdul Karim Telgi with Sana Amin Sheikh as Abdul’s wife Nafisa (IRL his wife was named Shahida). The series also stars Hemang Vyas, Mukesh Tiwari, Bharat Jadhav, Shaad Randhawa, Shashank Ketkar and more. A look at the first episode made me feel invested in Gagan Dev Riar’s Abdul Karim Telgi. The actor plays the role with honesty as he embodies the mastermind of the 2003 Stamp Paper Scam. NGL but Riar looks freakishly similar to Telgi. If we were to place their pictures next to each other, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell who is who. And the way the actor eases into the role and nails every single thing including Telgi’s accent, sweet talking skills with an on-point dialogue delivery and nuanced acting. From the looks of it, the actor is going to own the screen space leaving little scope for error.


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Sana Amin Sheikh does her bit to offer support to the story. The little glimpse we get of Hemang Vyas’s Kaushal in episode 1 of the series is enough to tell that Telgi and Kaushal’s team is going to be interesting to watch. The other supporting actors have very little screen time leaving Gagan Dev Riar to shoulder the weight of the show.


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The storytelling is as amazing as expected thanks to Hansal Mehta. From what I could gather after watching the first episode, it looks like Hansal Mehta did not disappoint with season 2 of his Scam franchise. However, it is essential to note that the first episode is rather slow and so is the second one (I did take a sneak peek). Considering that it’s a 5 episode series, I’d say it’s a show you don’t want to miss out on because. Despite the sluggish pace, the show does keep you hooked on the story, thanks to Gagan Dev Riar’s acting.

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Janvi Manchanda

​​She uses her pen to slice through patriarchy. She could be Geet one day, Wednesday Addams next. Writing is the bane of her existence and the object of all her desires!

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