Scams and scandals are something people would willingly want to avoid but there are some exceptionally brave-hearted people who wouldn’t mind taking such risks at the stake of leading a luxurious life. Harshad Mehta was one such personality who loved taking risks without much hesitation.
Harshad Mehta is known to have made the biggest scams over years that were finally exposed in 1992. Recently, the Harshad Mehta case has been of high interest among the film-makers in India. One such newly released web series is “Scam 1992- The Harshad Mehta Story” directed by Hansal Mehta which is set in the 1980s’ and 90s’ period. The story for this series was adapted from the book “THE SCAM: Who Won, who Lost, who Got Away” written by former Times of India journalist, Sucheta Dalal and Debashis Basu that traces the fastrack rise and phenomenol downfall of stockbroker Harshad Mehta. The series is broken into 10 episodes that were premiered on 9th October, 2020 on SonyLiv TV Originals.
What makes Scam 1992 a must watch series?
The series is so intriguing that it received an ImDb rating of 9.6/10 which is known to be the highest, hindi-language Indian series ever rated, by ImDb. It has become number 1 show after beating records of popular web-shows like ‘Breaking Bad’ & ‘Chernobyl’ holding 9.5 and 9.4 rating on ImDb, respectively. Some have even called it to be a ‘Masterpiece’.
So far people knew Harshad Mehta as a stockbroker who played the stock market for his own greed and finally faced a downfall. But this series clearly explains Harshad’s part of the story. Harshad has made history in many ways. He boosted the stock market prices to the highest, one has ever made.
What made Harshad choose such a career?
Harshad Shantilal Mehta was born to a middle-class family in Gujarat. Although he was feeble in studies, his skills in Cricket were incomparable. He completed his B.com Degree in Mumbai’s Lala Lajpatrai College and initially started earning by working for several odd jobs in sales for the next eight years. Living in a cramped one room apartment in Mumbai’s Gujarati dominated suburb of Ghatkopar was not something he was aiming for. Intending to achieve bigger milestones, he dived into the waters of Stock Market and joined Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) as a jobber. Harshad was a smart, sharp and a fast-learner which soon helped him become the ‘Dalal Street wizard’, who knew how to play the market for his own benefit. Since the digital era was a decade away, physical entries of all monetary transactions were the only way, which left many loopholes in the system, that were waiting to be exploited. Harshad was well aware of these loopholes with the help of which he rose to a position of prominence in the Indian securities industry within a short span. Eventually, he opened up his own consulting firm under the name “GrowMore Research and Asset Management”. He was commonly referred with terms such as ‘The Big Bull’ or ‘Raging Bull’. Over time, he became particularly known for his wealth in the 1990s which he did not mind bragging about through his 15,000 sq. ft. penthouse and a range of cars, not even the richest possessed during those days.
But why Fraud?
Harshad got some of the biggest banks involved in his get-quick-reach schemes which he called “Ready Forward” by bribing his way through corrupt channels. He worked as a broker between bank-to-bank transactions of securities that were confirmed with Bank Receipts (BRs). Later, he was caught in a blunder for serving fake BRs to these banks that were absolutely worthless. This was where his downfall began that consequently led to the culmination of his career. The enormity of the scam was so big, that if compared to today’s prices, the amount would shoot up to ₹24,000 crores which is way bigger than Nirav Modi or Vijay Mallaya scams.
Did he atone for his offences?
Harshad was charged for about 72 criminal offences. He was arrested and expelled from the stock market with the charge of causing a loss to various entities. His brothers who were involved as partners in his crimes were arrested by the CBI on 9 November 1992 for allegedly embezzling more than 28 lakh shares of about 90 companies, including ACC and Hindalco, through fakely replicated share transfer forms. The total value of the shares was calculated to be ₹250 crore. Harshad Mehta died in the jail at age 47 following an acute cardiac arrest on 31 December 2001.
The entire show is narrated by the writer and exposer of this fraud who is also a financial journalist for Times of India, Sucheta Dalal enacted by Shreya Dhanwanthary. Apart from the story, the opening track by Achint Thakkar is groovy and energetic that spices up the whole series.
It is clear that “Scam 1992- The Harshad Mehta Story” has set bars for these numerous OTT platforms and the competition is even higher. Hansal Mehta hasn’t left any detail unturned to make the story look more realistic and he surely has received its worth.
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