Bad Boy Billionaires India is an investigative docuseries that focues on the lives of India’s biggest business tycoons Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi, Subrata Roy and Ramalinga Raju who have been accused of gigantic corruption charges.
The King of Good Times
The first episode, focusing on Vijay Mallya, paves the way for the general tone of the series. It is investigative, the tone is serious, and there’s no beating around the bush here. Bad Boy Billionaires India starts from the very first of Vijay Mallya’s accession to the “King of Good Times” throne. We see him start off as a Formula One racer, and then, after the death of his father, take over the liquor business. Mallya belonged to a wealthy family, however, he was essentially jolted to reality following his father’s demise.
What followed is Mallya rising to power, with expansion of the Kingfisher brand name and then buying a Formula One team, cricket team, and the airlines. However, it then starts to all crash and burn. We see accounts of close family, friends, various journalist, bankers and even ex-employees.
We see the story through different eyes, and while some talk about his exuberant lifestyle, others talk about how his callousness has caused them to suffer. When things do reach the point of no return on this 60th birthday, you don’t really feel sad for the business tycoon. The truth is shocking, but more so is Mallya’s nonchalant reaction to the debacle.
Diamonds Aren’t Forever
The second episode, focusing on Nirav Modi, the famous diamond merchant, drips with glamour, beauty and ambition. This one, too, starts off with Nirav’s beginnings, his inspiration from his uncle Mehul Choksi, and then the rise to fame of his brand, and along with that, of him. From glamorous celebrities and models to dazzling cities, Modi had his hands everywhere.
We go through interviews with former employees, journalists and authors who talk about how everything went down, and how a once dazzling empire crumbled before their very eyes.
Modi is alleged to have committed bank frauds to the tune of $1.8 billion, the brunt of which is being borne by the common Indian citizen. In addition to us, a clerk in South Bombay’s Punjab National Bank also has to pay a very hefty price.
The World’s Biggest Family
Third and last episode, since we don’t get to see the one on B Ramalinga Raju (yet), focuses on Sahara Pariwar’s Subrata Roy. The first two episodes were on quite a different tangent, and although the case here is still fraud, it’s on a different scale altogether.
Roy started off his life humble, and it could’ve been a true rags-to-riches story. However, the man owes 30 million people money, and that’s only from two of his companies that went public. The people who invested in his other ventures – well, not sure what happens to them, since they don’t fall under the purview of the Supreme Courts’ rule.
The biggest voice here is that of journalist Sharat Pradhan. He’s been following Roy’s chit fund empire since the beginning and he fills in most of the gaps in the story. Other than that, we have previous employees, journalists and financial correspondents. The story involves the use of words like family, patriotism and some big A-list names of the who’s who of Bollywood.
It’s probably my favourite episode of the three, because of the sheer scheming that went into the whole thing.
Summing Up: Bad Boy Billionaires India
The narrative for Bad Boy Billionaires India is very well-made. The stories are tightly knit and features some excellent editing. Old ads, interviews, general footage, newspaper reports, prime time news shows are meshed together wonderfully with interviews of various people. And the people who feature for the interviews are a mixture of people from various fields, right from previous employees to their family members.
It provides a balanced narrative, where you get to hear both sides of the story. The interviews, too, are taken very beautifully and most of the time in spaces which feel familiar to the person getting interviewed. Bad Boy Billionaires India also features sweeping aerial shots of different places. They’re beautiful and breathtaking, and kind of give you the feel that these stories are bigger than what they appear to be.
The series is gripping, and gives a very grounded and balanced view into cases that we might not even know that well. It’s gripping, investigative and extremely interesting… and honestly mind-blowing. Because you realise that at the end of the day, it is the hard-working poor people who have lost huge amounts of money. To the crazy rich this amount doesn’t mean anything, but to others, it’s a difference between life and death.
Bad Boy Billionaires India is streaming on Netflix.