It’s 2011, and Jagruti Pathak (Karishma Tanna) is Deputy Bureau Chief for the newspaper Eastern Age, and has sources deep within Mumbai’s police department.
She’s trying to get a lead on two bombings in 2010 that killed 40; it seems that the suspected ringleader was involved in the city’s 1990s gang wars and is now commanding from exile. She gets a tip that the suspects were in Mumbai two days before the blasts, but the Anti-Terrorism squad couldn’t stop the deadly attack, even though they had knowledge of the suspects’ whereabouts.
Jagruti goes to her high-up contact, JCP Shroff (Harman Baweja) for confirmation on record, and he tries to change the subject by plying her with perfume. Despite her objections, she takes it. She insists that she has enough to run this as a Page One story, but her editor, Irman Siddiqui (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub) disagrees.
A driver for one of the big gang kingpins gets shot right outside the kingpin’s home; Shroff arrives shortly after Jagruti does, but he dismisses it as a rival gang’s payback for something. She gets in touch with her contact in the suspected gang, and wants an interview with its leader, though he usually talks to a rival reporter, Jaideb Sen (Prosenjit Chatterjee).
Shroff gives her the exclusive that the shooters have been arrested, and she scoops every reporter in town except for Sen, who reports that the Intelligence Bureau is likely behind the shootings. Leena (Tannishtha Chatterjee), the editor at Jagruti’s previous paper, is incensed that she’s scooping her reporters left and right and demands that they cultivate better sources as well as get confirmation on tips.
She tries to follow onto Sen’s story, even though he warns her that she doesn’t know who she’s dealing with; she finds out that not only is IB protecting the main gang leader, but that the bureau got a report of 4 bombs in 2010, and defused two of them, which never made the news. She blows off a date to talk to a source close to the leader of the Rajan gang, but isn’t sure anything will come of it, until he calls her desk phone while the staff is celebrating Irman’s tenth anniversary as EIC. She’s getting the exclusive of the year, but will it come at a cost?
Scoop was created by Hansal Mehta and Mrunmayee Lagoo Waikul and directed by Mehta, based on the memoir Behind Bars in Byculla: My Days in Prison by Jinga Vora. It paints a picture that will be awfully familiar to anyone who remembers the American tabloid wars of yesteryear, where big city papers did what they could to get exclusives and scoops, often skirting ethical lines. While the particulars of the news that Jagruti and the other reporters are getting may be confusing to people who don’t live in India, the dramatic beats, and the character types, are still the same.
Jagruti is the mid-career go-getter who is forcing her name into prominence in a largely male field, and people like Irman and Leena feed on the rivalries between papers, but also want to make sure that the stories they publish are properly sourced and can withstand even the lightest fact-checking. The sources these reporters foster are somewhat ethically compromised or are out-and-out criminals, but they’re valuable nevertheless, and reporters like Jagruti know how to get reliable information out of them.
The first episode introduces all of those rivalries, which were apparently still in place in 2011, despite the world going pretty deeply online by then. It especially establishes how Jagruti is an up-and-comer challenging the throne of Sen, who gets exclusives no one else manages to do.
By the end of the first episode, though, Sen is dead, and it seems that a scene where Jagruti’s Rajan contact offers to “take care of him” in order to clear her path to his boss might be the reason. Jagruti is going to find herself being accused of his murder, but the issues that are going to arise from this are more of a case of how much did she need to sacrifice of her soul in order to get those exclusives that she got? Did she compromise her ethics too much, and this is what has led her to being accused of Sen’s murder? Or is this just a matter of a good reporter pushing the wrong people for answers?
It’s going to be interesting to see how this is explored in subsequent episodes, and if Jagruti can keep doing what she’s doing after Sen’s untimely demise. It certainly is a timely topic, given the high-profile murders of journalists like Jamal Khashoggi, who have been silenced for who they’ve pushed on particular topics. We’ll see if the narrative here stays close to something resembling what investigative journalists go through or if it becomes more sensationalist than that.