Tushar Hiranandani’s Scam 2003: The Telgi Story tells us the kind of lethal concoction that is created when disparity meets greed and corruption adds fuel to the fire. It is the story of a scam that shook Indian society. It is the story of an ambitious man who was ready to go to any extent to get what he felt he deserved, but instead of walking on the right path, he indulged in all kinds of illegitimate activities to achieve his goal. Telgi had big dreams, and he knew that though he was born into an underprivileged background, he was not going to die there.
Gagandev Riar, who plays the character of Abdul Karim Telgi has outdone himself, and it’s a treat to watch him perform on screen. But as far as the screenplay is concerned, we were a bit let down as it lacked the flair that was an essential element that became the USP of the first installment of the franchise, i.e., Scam 1992. The Sony Liv series lacks a buildup, and at times it feels like the makers are just trying to state the facts but are unable to weave them in a way that thrills you or keeps you on the edge of your seats. So, let’s find out what happened in Abdul Karim Telgi’s life and how he committed one of the biggest scams of all time.
How Does Telgi Start His Mumbai Journey?
It all started when a fruit vendor got noticed by a man from Bombay while he was traveling by train in Karnataka. This nobleman’s name was Shaukat, and when he saw Abdul Karim Telgi, he realized that the man had too much potential in him, and only if he got the right opportunity would he create a name for himself. Abdul Telgi packed his bags and, without thinking much, left for Bombay. Abdul used to sell fruits and do all kinds of odd jobs to support his family. It was a huge risk that Abdul was taking, but fortunately, Shaukat hadn’t forgotten about his promise, and he gave him a job in his guest house.
Telgi realized that, though Shaukat was a nice man, he was not such a great businessman. Telgi took charge of things, and he started a marketing campaign by asking taxi drivers to bring tourists to the guest house, and in return, he gave them a commission. Within a few months, the guest house was flooded with visitors, and Shaukat started making money like never before. Abdul fell in love with Shaukat’s daughter, Nafisa, and he got married to her soon after that. Abdul could never really understand what the Nafisa saw in him, and he was grateful to the Almighty for making their destinies intertwined.
But the guest house business was never enough for Abdul, and now that he had a home and a stable life, he started looking out for other ventures where he could make money. Abdul came into conflict with the law for the first time when he was caught by Madhukar Dombe for running a business making fake certificates. Telgi met Kaushal Jhaveri when he was locked up in the cell, and as soon as he came out, they started working together and indulging in all sorts of illegal activities. Abdul was very clear that he wanted to make money and never go back to the life from which he had come. All his life, he had struggled and lived under constraints, but now he wanted to expand his wings and show the financial capital of India what he was capable of. Kaushal taught him how to take out stamps from the stamp paper and then sell them back at lower prices.
But the thing that Abdul noticed was that in this business, there were a lot of competitors, and even the profit margin was very low. Telgi knew that his hunger wouldn’t be satiated by making a few hundred rupees every day, and that’s when he decided that he wanted to step up his game and make a real profit. Abdul was never scared of taking risks, but one thing that worked in his favor was that he had a deep understanding of how the system worked. Abdul was a greedy man, but he understood the necessity of keeping others around him happy too. He understood the moment he came to Mumbai that money could be made here if a person played his cards well. He knew that no matter how righteous a person might be, the tinkling sound of coins always overpowered everything else. He laid a lot of emphasis on keeping the key players in the system happy; sometimes, he just used to go and shower them with money, even though he knew that he didn’t immediately need their services. He knew that he had to be in everybody’s good books so that when the time came, there would be people who would save him from falling.
Why Did Telgi And Kaushal Part Ways?
Telgi had decided that he would rob the train that carried freshly printed stamp papers from Nasik to Mumbai and then sell them in the market for a lesser price. From the station master to the officers in the stamp paper distribution office, Telgi bribed all those he needed to. But the problem arose when he realized in Scam 2003 that without a vendor’s license, he wouldn’t be able to sell stamp papers to big companies and conglomerates. He had decided to switch from selling stamps to dealing in stamp papers because the profit margin was greater, but he knew that if he would only be able to sell it to small-time lawyers and independent parties, then he wouldn’t be able to create any sort of difference. That’s when Abdul Karim Telgi decided that it was about time he came into contact with the politicians and got his vendor’s license.
Telgi met Tukaram, a member of the United Shakti Party, and through him, he met the leader, Garima Talpade. He came into their good books, but soon there was a political upheaval, and a different party won the election this time, and all the hard work that Telgi had done went in vain. This time, Bhavya Inamdar from the Loktantra Secular Party was made the chief minister, and Garima Talpade had to sit in the opposition. Telgi was relentless, and he once again approached the politicians and established relations with the people in power. Telgi wanted a vendor’s license at all costs, and in his quest, he didn’t realize that his partner, Jhaveri, had started feeling left behind. Jhaveri and Telgi had a heated argument in which Jhaveri lost his temper and ended up assaulting Telgi.
Jhaveri told Abdul he was happy playing the small game because it made sure that he didn’t come under the radar and he wouldn’t have to go back to prison. Jhaveri had realized that Telgi wanted way too much as per his liking, and with such conflicting ideologies, they wouldn’t be able to work together. After Telgi finally got his license, he once again approached Jhaveri to work with him, as he wanted to keep his differences aside and be the bigger man, but Jhaveri did not agree. That was the end of their partnership, and after that, they went their own ways. Meanwhile, the leader of the opposition party, Garima Talpade, was not happy that Telgi had forgotten about them after they were defeated by Inamdar’s party. The ruling party had a vested interest in a property dispute that was being fought by two twin brothers who belonged to an affluent business family.
The brother, who was being supported by the ruling party, needed back-dated stamp papers to prove that his father had signed a gift deed and made him the owner of the mill in dispute back in 1989. The ruling party called in favors from Telgi, who, as always, didn’t disappoint and delivered them by vetting an officer in the stamp office named Durgesh. The problem arose when the other brother went to Garima Talpade, and she found a way to hit back at the ruling party. The problem was that Telgi’s vendor’s license had been issued only a year ago, and while signing those papers, which were dated 1989, he probably had not realized that. Telgi became the scapegoat in the tussle between the two parties, and he was once again sent to prison. Abdul Telgi had played his game well, and he received special treatment in prison. People whom he had bribed made sure that he came out at the earliest.
Will Telgi’s Corrupt Activities Come To Light?
After coming out of jail in Scam 2003: The Telgi Story, Abdul Karim Telgi once again mended his relationship with the politicians and started his corrupt activities in full force and on a much larger scale this time. He had met a man named JK, who had asked him to come to Nasik and meet him if he wanted to work in collaboration. Telgi did go to Nasik, but he wasn’t convinced after hearing JK’s plan. JK and two other workers from the Nasik Security Press had decided to misappropriate the stamp papers, but Telgi knew that unless and until they had a senior officer in their pockets, this was not a sustainable plan. That’s when Telgi decided to bribe Madhusudan Mishra and ask him to come on their side. Telgi realized that if somehow he got a printing machine for himself, the hassle of stealing could be avoided, and they could print and sell their own stamp papers. But the problem was that when these machines were auctioned, the plates were destroyed by the government so that no illegal printing of stamp papers could take place.
But Telgi had his ways and means, and he knew that only if Madhusudan Mishra came on their side could they make it happen. He tried to bribe the man, but that plan backfired horribly. It was then that Telgi decided to feed his ego and give him what he wanted most, i.e., respect. Telgi took great pains to go all the way to Delhi, bribing ministers sitting there to make Madhusudan the general manager of the Nasik security press. Madhusudan, with time, realized that for years he had been an honest worker, but it had led him nowhere. There was a lot of frustration inside the man as he saw his principles failing him. He had always believed that hard work always paid off, but he was wrong. The system stood in his way, and for 10 long years, no one appreciated his work ethic. Mishra became very rebellious, and his entire belief system changed. He decided to come on board and help Abdul in whatever way he could.
Abdul set up his own printing press and tackled every challenge that came his way. But once again, a different party came to power, and his entire warehouse was set on fire as they were not benefiting from him. Abdul went and talked to the new chief minister and told him that he needed his blessings and that every week, his share would reach him on time. Everything was going as planned, and Abdul was in the process of planning his next, very ambitious move. He wanted Madhusudhan Mishra to get the Nasik Security Press shut down so that he could have a monopoly over the sale of stamp papers in the state. Things were going as per plan, and Mishra was doing the needful until Telgi committed a blunder at the end of Scam 2003: The Telgi Story.
Abdul went to a bar and spent approximately 90 lakh rupees in a single night on a dancer. He had gotten agitated that there was another man who was competing with him, and to show who he was and what he could do, Telgi really stretched the limit and ended up doing what he should never have done. Telgi always said that nobody should know how much they were making. He was willingly very subdued in front of the politicians so that he could win their favor. He wanted them to believe that they were running the show when, in fact, the reins were always in his hands. JK stopped him time and again from doing so, but Telgi didn’t listen to him that night.
The next morning, he got a call from every person who was a part of his system, and they all asked him to start afresh and give them more, as they knew how much he was making. Telgi had blown his cover, and the news that a man had spent 90 lakhs on a dancer made it to the headlines of every newspaper. In his arrogance, Telgi had forgotten that not showing off his wealth was the reason why he had been able to carry out his activities on such a large scale. Scam 2003 Part 2, would have to do a lot to overcome this debacle and still pray for the odds to favor him. In the second part of Scam 2003: The Telgi Story, we will get to know how this incident impacts the life of Abdul Karim Telgi and if he is able to withstand the storm or if the politicians revoke his immunity and let him be devoured by the legal justice system.