There is a scene in Scoop where Jagruti Pathak (Karishma Tanna) and Imran (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub), after going through some documents, conclude that everything is not fully cooked yet. The same can be said about this web series, created and directed by Hansal Mehta and written by Mrunmayee Lagoo, Mirat Trivedi, and Mehta. The whole show rests on a trite idea that journalism today has gotten worse and more sensational. The writers mainly stretch this one line into an occasionally exhausting and occasionally interesting six-episode Netflix show. When Scoop works, its text glows due to some fine performances. But when its energy dips in various places, it begins to feel tedious.
For the most part, Scoop merely keeps on repeating the same points. We always find Jagruti canceling her personal plans to complete her professional appointments. She doesn't go with her son to the movie theater. During her vacation in Kashmir, she gets busy on the phone while her family members enjoy in the background. All these scenes suggest that a journalist is never off duty. He/she constantly chases big stories to remain relevant in the field. After all, we first see Jagruti and her son at a police conference, and then we come to that shot of her kid enjoying the ride in the car. These portions have a swift pace, as they are meant to convey how most journalists rush from one location to another to find a story and do their job. It's just that these scenes start to feel platitudinous when we observe Jagruti prioritize her work for the second or third time.
Mehta is mostly concerned with making big points. He doesn't fill his frames with imagination. This is why whenever a scene reiterates an earlier point, you think Mehta is simply stretching the runtime and is out of ideas. The story the writers choose to tell can be consolidated into a tight two or three-hour production. However, Mehta has made a six-episode series because he can do so. Take the scenes where Jagruti suffers inside a prison. They seem to go on forever. One can say that it's meant to be like that "so that the viewer can participate in Jagruti's troubles." This is what happens when filmmakers lack creative cells. They think in very literal terms. The jail scenes drag because Mehta is unable to sustain or create momentum. He again resorts to making big points ("The justice system is slow") instead of imbuing every moment with emotional power.
To make matters worse, he chooses an okayish actor to play the lead role. Tanna gives an external performance. She seems to be following someone's brief instead of bringing something new to the table. Compare the Jagruti of the past to the Jagruti of the present. There is no difference between them. The "new" Jagruti has apparently gained experience in journalism, but Tanna's mannerisms remain the same throughout - past or present. To see precisely what's wrong with her performance, put it alongside that of Ayyub and Inayat Sood. The former's face looks a bit weary and weathered as if he has seen a lot of things in his career. On the other hand, Sood convincingly changes from an innocent companion to an ambitious maniac (she simply does her job, albeit with a different definition of journalism). Tanna, though, merely makes faces, taking hints from the ongoing situation.
There is a subplot involving Pushkar (Tanmay Dhanania) and his wife, which desperately screams for our attention and begs us to connect the latter's plight with Jagruti's professional environment. Some threads, like that involving Pushkar and Deepa (Sood), are either left hanging in the air or too neatly resolved. Mehta is not very good with visuals but gets excited during speeches. This is why whenever characters sell cliché as wisdom through lines like, "If we show some decency, the audience will change the channel," or "Good journalism used to be controversial. Now, anything which is controversial is good journalism," the series flickers with exhilaration. No wonder the best thing about Scoop is the rousing speeches in court. The lawyer (Jaimini Pathak) deftly defends Jagruti without using exaggerated gestures. Another good thing about Scoop is that it knows that these "rousing speeches" don't immediately save someone. Before the courtroom scenes, two journalists publish an impassioned article but fail to change the dirty course of journalism.
If Scoop were a person on trial, it would have defended itself by saying, "I come bearing good intentions." This is all it can mainly do, to be honest. The series indicates that to be a journalist is like playing a nasty game in which everyone, including your peers, can suddenly assassinate your character to satisfy the appetite of the audience. And it's really not that easy to come out from this trauma. The message is not exactly enlightening, but given the times we live in, a reminder doesn't hurt.
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