Sensationalized reporting has been a part of the television news DNA for more than 20 years. To talk in detail about how a newspaper office works and the kind of work a crime reporter must deal with on a day-to-day basis, Hansal Mehta brings you Scoop. Based on “Behind Bars in Byculla: My Days in Prison” by Jigna Vora, this limited series brings to light the tale of a crime journalist who was wrongfully sent to jail and her ordeal to prove herself innocent.
Jagruti Pathak’s Life
Set in 2011, Mumbai, Scoop begins with Jagruti Pathak, a senior crime reporter with Eastern Age, going about her daily routine of talking about the crime that happens in the city with her Resident Editor, Imran. Imran and Jagruti have been colleagues for a long time, and they share more of a friendship than a boss-employee relationship, which is endearing. Her years of experience in this field and her connections with her sources and police officers allow her to be one of the leading crime reporters in the city. She is just below Jaideb Sen, the most renowned crime reporter, and they are always on the loggerheads about information and sources.
Shootout At Dawood’s Den
Jagruti and Jaideb are the first people to reach the scene of crime where Dawood’s driver Hussain is found dead. It is obvious to Jaideb that this killing was not executed by Chhota Rajan, as the local police claim. His hunch is that the Intelligence Bureau was involved. Jaideb is confident about it because of his experience in this field, which makes it easy for him to see through everything around him.
Post this shooting; there is a buzz about what is happening between Mumbai Police and the IB; along with that, Jagruti and Jaideb’s rivalry is at its peak because she is as ruthless as he is about getting a lead on this case. Jaideb, after meeting with Commissioner Malik, asks Jagruti in an aggressive demeanor not to pursue the Intelligence Bureau angle, which throws Jagruti off. But clearly, Jaideb’s expression gave away that for the first time, he fears the system, something he has not felt through the many years of getting death threats.
Jagruti Interviews Chhota Rajan
Considering this as a threat, she asks her source Ashit to get her in touch with Rajan but not through Pramod Irani, just to prove that she is better at getting work done through her sources. She does this because she was in the race to be better than Jaideb, and she was aware that Irani, the prominent right-hand man of Rajan, would never agree to speak to her. She had to choose the other ancillary man, which happens to be Samson. Through Samson, Jagruti finally gets the interview with Chhota Rajan, and she soon becomes the star crime reporter. This was the moment she had been waiting for for years, and now she believed that she could be at par with Jaideb Sen.
Jagruti is an ambitious woman because she is one of the few female crime reporters, which means she must work harder than her male counterparts. She’s constantly being watched by people who don’t stop judging her professional relationships with JCP Shroff and her boss Imran. This happened because a decade ago women reaching posts of prominence in the workplace was a rare sight. This makes it easy for other colleagues to start questioning if the women have to do any actual work to get a promotion and they begin spreading rumors of affairs between the boss and the female employee. Since spreading rumors is not a crime, it keeps festering. The audiences also get to see Jagruti as a single mother who is trying very hard to make time for her son Neel. As a viewer, one can sympathize with her for living on a meager salary of a journalist while balancing her hectic work and personal life.
How Does Jagruti Finally Get Bail? Will The Police Officers Be Charged With Wrongful Accusations?
To everyone’s shock, Jaideb Sen is murdered. The entire media, cops, and the city go into a frenzy to know why he was murdered. The top investigating cops, Harshvardhan Shroff and Ramesh Malik, are under monumental pressure to conduct a thorough and swift investigation to catch the gunmen and find out who hired them. The Mumbai police crime branch quickly raised fingers at Chhota Rajan because getting hold of his henchmen Irani and Samson in the city was an easy way out, and there wouldn’t be any questions asked by the populace and the media if a gangster’s name was involved. This happened because Rajan has been their go-to target for everything related to the gang wars. The now deceased Jaideb was claimed to have written many anti-Rajan articles, this was used as proof which helped the Crime Branch to conclude that Rajan, Samson, and Irani were the co-conspirators and are now accused in this case. The crime branch was in no mood to go after any other lead other than Rajan. It is easy to understand that there is a sense of urgency in the way Mumbai police want to close this case, and it is obvious they are not doing a proper job so far.
The investigations led the cops to a voice recording of Chhota Rajan speaking to another journalist and letting him know that Rajan was forced by Jagruti to kill Jaideb. This is the breakthrough the Mumbai Police were waiting for, and they were quick to make the arrest. The cops wanted a major lead that would help them close this case, and Jagruti’s arrest sealed that. Jagruti’s arrest thus starts her long nine-month ordeal of being humiliated, interrogated, harassed, and bullied by the inmates inside Byculla jail and outside, all of which were carried out by the media fraternity that she was a big part of. Inside the jail, she was mercilessly targeted by Chhaya Gadha and her pack of supporters. Years ago, Jagruti’s story about Chhaya being a murderer led to her imprisonment. Chhaya, who is now known as Rambha Mata, wants to pay back for the horrendous life she has led in jail because of Jagruti. Her actions against Jagruti are to remind her that nobody is above the law. As a senior journalist, she had devoted all her life to crime reporting, and this was the first time she was on the receiving end of the system’s wrath, something she was not ready to face. Chhaya used this as an opportunity to unleash hell on her already dreadful life.
Anybody with common sense could understand that the Mumbai Police were deliberately prolonging the case against Jagruti to cover up something major. The MCOCA Act filed against Jagruti made sure her bail would be rejected every single time. This was an obvious ruse to make Jagruti the scapegoat. There was talk of growing closeness between the Crime Branch and D Company, but nothing materialized on this theory because of no evidence or the crime branch made sure there is no proof of this accusation. The crime branch being a part of the Indian establishment cannot face the humiliation of being associated with D Company. To avoid that from happening, they blatantly got hold of the professional rivalry theory between Jagruti and Jaideb because in the past there have been witnesses of this tussle.
Jagruti’s state of mind was such that she is sometimes on the verge of breaking down, while on other days, she gathers the courage to help other women with filing for bail. She receives support from Sadhvi Ma, a controversial yet powerful religious leader, who is a new inmate which leads to an end to Jagruti’s ordeal caused by Rambha mata. Jagruti had written about Sadhvi’s involvement in a bomb blast case, but Sadhvi decided to make her an ally instead of an enemy so that she would one day return her favor. Sadhvi comes across as a calculative woman rather than spiteful. She knows who should be in her circle and who should be out of it. Somehow Sadhvi’s words of hope showed some improvement in Jagruti’s state of mind because, for the first time in nine months, someone spoke to her as an equal and in a solemn tone. Jagruti might not agree with Sadhvi Ma’s politics but she somehow found solace in Sadhvi’s earnest prayers for her.
After nine months of constantly being in the bad books of basically everyone, Jagruti is finally given bail. The MCOCA case forced her to hire a high-profile lawyer to help her in proving all the allegations against her were false. She had to do this despite her family’s depleting economic condition because a high-profile lawyer will be able to hold the attention of the judge, and accurately explain how the charges against her were bogus and speculative, and without concrete proof, they did not hold up in court. Why was the Mumbai Police crime branch never questioned about a botched-up investigation? One would never know. Looks like there needs to be a system to question the police as well if the investigation they conducted was botched up, and ruined the life of an individual.
Jagruti, once out, tries her level best to make her life seem normal. She had lost hope as she faced PTSD from her jail time because she was sure there was a vendetta the police had against her for doing her job. Her colleague, Imran, and Jaideb’s friend Sandeep unearth the Mumbai Police and D Company nexus which was supposed to be Jaideb’s ‘smoking gun’. The details of the ‘smoking gun’ includes the call records between the then top cop of Crime Branch and now political leader Acharya and the most wanted Chhota Shakeel; all saved in Jaideb’s pen drive. The call records were enough to conclude that Shroff, Malik, and Acharya, were still protecting Dawood’s syndicate.
It can be assumed that the top brass cops probably had some underhanded dealings with the D Company. If Dawood is ever arrested, he will take them down with him. This was a highly speculative theory that the cops would deny unless strong evidence is presented. The Mumbai Police Crime Branch would go to any extent to make sure this theory is not given any wings. The last chain of events in the show has Imran letting Jagruti know about the information he gathered about Shroff, Malik, and Acharya. Jagruti, since her ordeal, has no zeal left in her, and it is understandable. Her life amongst the innocents and the culprits made her realize the impact of her job. Her imprisonment also led her to witness the monster that the media had become. She probably realized she cannot be a part of this rat race anymore. She believed in the ethics of her profession, and somewhere now the ethics is lost in limbo.
The last scene of the show features Jigna Vora, based on whose experience Scoop was conceived and created. She speaks in detail about the harrowing time in Byculla Jail, and it is heartbreaking to hear about her ordeal and how she gave up hope of ever getting justice. The woman must have felt naked in front of the world, for her life was out in the open for everyone to devour. If only the police had done their job right and saved her from such horrendous times. She never got her career back, but she got her life back on track thanks to her family and her son.