tv series

Cult TV series ‘Powder’ is finally getting the platform and attention it deserves

Atul Sabharwal’s drama about a police operation to take down a drug smuggler has been resurrected on Netflix after disappearing from view.

Powder, a show about the drug trade in Mumbai that made its debut on Sony TV in 2010, died a quiet death after the first season due to its poor ratings. Written and directed by Atul Sabharwal, the Yash Raj Films production is now back on Netflix, giving viewers a chance to lament the passing of what might be one of the best limited series to emerge out of India.

Usmaan Ali Malik (Manish Chaudhury) is a senior officer in the Mumbai branch of the Narcotics Control Bureau. Usmaan is powered by a singular aim: to nab drug kingpin Naved Ansari (Pankaj Tripathi). Malik and Ansari grew up together in the slums, and this history gives the cat-and-mouse game between them a special charge. In one scene, for example, Malik mentions to Ansari’s younger brother, whom he is interrogating, that he had gifted him a videogame years ago on the latter’s birthday.

Malik heads a team of young, if mercurial, agents whose devotion to their job is the only common factor in their colourful personalities. Brinda Sawhney (Geetika Tyagi) is the only woman on the team. From an affluent background, she has chosen the hard work of the NCB due to a personal tragedy, and Tyagi deftly captures the weight of this burden in a performance that walks the fine line between personally distant and professionally committed.

Geetika Tyagi, Manish Chaudhuri, Gaurav Sharma and Rahul Bagga in Powder. Image credit: Yash Raj Films.
Geetika Tyagi, Manish Chaudhuri, Gaurav Sharma and Rahul Bagga in Powder. Image credit: Yash Raj Films.

Mahendra Ranade (Rahul Bagga) is the hot-headed foil to the unflappable Sawhney. He, like Malik, is a product of scarcity, and this feeds into the zeal with which he nabs criminals. He is not averse to bending the law if that means that catch is finally in the bag, and Bagga brings a hunger to the character that is ultimately endearing. One of the highlights of the show is the professional rivalry between him and Sawhney, fueled by the class and gender divide between them.

Atul Sabharwal has categorically stated that he has not watched the The Wire, the alleged inspiration for all drug shows made in the aftermath of that outsize series. He should be taken at his word, if for no other reason than that Mumbai is not Baltimore. One might glean commonalities in, say, the way the NCB builds its case before the court. But the specifics, from the corrupt lawyer who guides Ansari to the perpetually tense relationship between the Mumbai police and NCB, are thoroughly local.

One can add bureaucracy to the list. In what must be the most Indian theme on the show, the bureau has to suspend its operations against Ansari for a few weeks at the end of the financial year as they are required to organise small-scale drug busts and fill files in order that the government should think them worthy of a budget upgrade.

Powder is never showy, and it is a credit to Sabharwal that he presents the mighty and the lowly with equal elan. If Ansari’s ultimate aim is to shift operations to Dubai and become a global drug lord, the team going after him are happy to tap their informants for something big enough to meet the day’s target. And when the bust happens, they are willing to look the other way if that means a family would not go hungry.

Rasika Dugal and Amitosh Nagpal in Powder. Image credit: Yash Raj Films.
Rasika Dugal and Amitosh Nagpal in Powder. Image credit: Yash Raj Films.
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Following a mountaineer as he reaches the summit of Mount Everest

Accounts from Vikas Dimri’s second attempt reveal the immense fortitude and strength needed to summit the Everest.

Vikas Dimri made a huge attempt last year to climb the Mount Everest. Fate had other plans. Thwarted by unfavourable weather at the last minute, he came so close and yet not close enough to say he was at the top. But that did not deter him. Vikas is back on the Everest trail now, and this time he’s sharing his experiences at every leg of the journey.

The Everest journey began from the Lukla airport, known for its dicey landing conditions. It reminded him of the failed expedition, but he still moved on to Namche Bazaar - the staging point for Everest expeditions - with a positive mind. Vikas let the wisdom of the mountains guide him as he battled doubt and memories of the previous expedition. In his words, the Everest taught him that, “To conquer our personal Everest, we need to drop all our unnecessary baggage, be it physical or mental or even emotional”.

Vikas used a ‘descent for ascent’ approach to acclimatise. In this approach, mountaineers gain altitude during the day, but descend to catch some sleep. Acclimatising to such high altitudes is crucial as the lack of adequate oxygen can cause dizziness, nausea, headache and even muscle death. As Vikas prepared to scale the riskiest part of the climb - the unstable and continuously melting Khumbhu ice fall - he pondered over his journey so far.

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Back in the Himalayas, after a string of sleepless nights, Vikas and his team ascended to Camp 2 (6,500m) as planned, and then descended to Base Camp for the basic luxuries - hot shower, hot lunch and essential supplements. Back up at Camp 2, the weather played spoiler again as a jet stream - a fast-flowing, narrow air current - moved right over the mountain. Wisdom from the mountains helped Vikas maintain perspective as they were required to descend 15km to Pheriche Valley. He accepted that “strength lies not merely in chasing the big dream, but also in...accepting that things could go wrong.”

At Camp 4 (8,000m), famously known as the death zone, Vikas caught a clear glimpse of the summit – his dream standing rather tall in front of him.

It was the 18th of May 2018 and Vikas finally reached the top. The top of his Everest…the top of Mount Everest!

Watch the video below to see actual moments from Vikas’ climb.

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Vikas credits his strength to dedication, exercise and a healthy diet. He credits dietary supplements for helping him sustain himself in the inhuman conditions on Mount Everest. On heights like these where the oxygen supply drops to 1/3rd the levels on the ground, the body requires 3 times the regular blood volume to pump the requisite amount of oxygen. He, thus, doesn’t embark on an expedition without double checking his supplements and uses Livogen as an aid to maintain adequate amounts of iron in his blood.

Livogen is proud to have supported Vikas Dimri on his ambitious quest and salutes his spirit. To read more about the benefits of iron, see here. To read Vikas Dimri’s account of his expedition, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Livogen and not by the Scroll editorial team.