More crossed wires, and not all of them work

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Two years after the first season, writer Trishant Srivastava and director Soumendra Padhi return to a town that is notorious as India’s phishing capital. The battle lines were drawn by the end of the first season of Netflix’s Jamtara: Sabka Number Aayega with street-smart scamster Sunny Mondal (Sparsh Shrivastav) on one side and Brajesh Bhan (Amit Sial), a local predatory goon with political ambitions, on the other.

If Sunny is the reason for the small town’s sudden gains and admittedly illegal prosperity, Brajesh is greedy for a piece of the pie. Caught in between are Sunny’s cousin Rocky (Anshuman Pushkar) and Sunny’s wife Gudiya (Monika Panwar). The original gang of school friends that worked with Sunny has been divided, with the brains of the operation shifting his focus away from phishing scams and towards revenge.

Jamtara season 1 episode 1.

The new season is also based on true events (Padhi was reportedly intrigued by a newspaper article about school dropouts who were running scams from Jamtara, a district with a population of less than 2,000 that had around 40 mobile shops). There is equal emphasis on cybercrime as well as on political powerplay.

As Jamtara prepares for local elections, Brajesh takes on the might and manipulations of his aunt Ganga Devi (Seema Pahwa) as well as an unlikely opponent. Sunny is devising a new social engineering scam. Another gang is continuing to phish, based on the original blueprint. Rocky, having made a pact with the devil, is now feeling increasingly entrapped.

A large banyan tree adorned with cell phones becomes emblematic of Jamtara’s audacious residents. With wealth comes power and the suddenly rich begin to display violent and unkind characteristics. Sometimes their actions and the greed of those around them leads to devastating consequences.

Cybercrime is rife, but the lack of evidence and weak information technology-related laws make it challenging for the cops to make any arrests. Even earnest cops like Dolly Sahu (Aksha Pardasany) have to find ways to work with and around the system that has defeated inspector Biswa (Dibyendu Bhattacharya).

Jamtara season 2.

In the face of grave adversity, the power keeps shifting between hunter and hunted. Making things more interesting as well as more dangerous is the arrival of Rinku, a maverick whose do-or-die methods stand to upturn Jamtara’s highly-charged ecosystem.

As before, the show stands strong on the shoulders of a competent cast and authentic production values. Padhi’s assured direction skilfully captures the many plot points and character motivations. If the first edition established the rivalry between Sunny and Brajesh, this time it’s hard to know who you should root for. There is a little madness in everyone. Corruption and lawlessness have spread like a virus.

Sial is effectively menacing, with Pahwa giving him a tough contest. Srivastava, Pushkar and Panwar revisit their characters with consistency and deliver some surprises too. Harshit Gupta as Baccha and Rohit KP as Munna continue to be amusing as the perennially intoxicated narrators drawing wisdom from the epics.

The narrative feels like it’s unable to hold together all the sparking loose wires. As intriguing as the scams are, the small-town political one-upmanship is both customary and tiresome, making you wonder how the show can be progressed.

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