Cricket Corruption Documentary Netflix: ‘Caught Out’ Review

Nearly 23 years after the murky world of cricket match-fixing in India was exposed by the diligent efforts of the Delhi Police, we are graced with a new documentary on Netflix. Caught Out, aka the Cricket Corruption Documentary Netflix, revisits that tumultuous period through the perspectives of those who were deeply entwined in the scandal from all angles.

In this compelling journey, we witness a significant transformation within the realm of sports journalism. Those fortunate individuals who were once envied for getting paid to indulge in their passion for cricket found themselves abruptly catapulted into the realm of investigative reporting. The renowned sports journalist Sharda Ugra confesses in the documentary “Caught Out,” “When it came to issues like betting, I was completely naive.”

Cricket Corruption Documentary Netflix: The Unraveling Saga

The match-fixing saga that engulfed Indian cricket during the late 90s and early 2000s left an indelible mark on the hearts of cricket enthusiasts. While some turned their backs on the game, many chose to remain in denial. They believed that a few bad apples, both on and off the field, could not tarnish the integrity of the players who had always represented their nations with honor and integrity. After all, the game possesses an uncanny ability to pull people back in.

It’s imperative to remember that Indian cricket in the 90s was far from swimming in wealth, unlike the last 15 years, largely thanks to the Indian Premier League (IPL). The allure of pocketing some extra earnings under the table proved irresistible for certain players who did not hail from affluent backgrounds.

Why the Netflix Cricket Corruption Documentary Revisited this Era?

Cricket’s governing bodies have since bolstered their vigilance, but the question remains: why should we revisit this dark chapter now? As cricket continues to attract new fans born post-2000, it becomes crucial to acquaint them with Indian cricket’s tumultuous past. Is it possible to effectively condense all of this into a 77-minute film? Perhaps not.

While cricket enthusiasts from earlier generations might roll their eyes at the familiar narrative, we must keep in mind that this documentary targets a global audience. For the uninitiated, the film provides essential insights, as narrated by the intrepid journalists who played a pivotal role in exposing match-fixing, including Aniruddha Bahal.

The Cricket Corruption Documentary Story’s Origin

The film appropriately commences with the writer who broke the story in the June 1997 cover of Outlook magazine, titled “India’s Worst Kept Secret.” This groundbreaking article set the stage for the Tehelka tapes, the CBI investigation, and the subsequent bans on superstar national captains Hansie Cronje and Mohammad Azharuddin, all of which the film meticulously details.

Bahal, an accidental sports reporter, found his unique vantage point as an outsider within the cricket journalism fraternity. While others shied away from controversial reporting, Bahal delved deeper to unveil the clandestine connections between bookies and certain players. His instinctual pursuit paved the way for the cinematic retelling of this gripping saga.

Revisiting the Scandal

The documentary features interviews with key figures in the saga, such as Bahal, Ugra, Sriram Karri, Murali Krishnan, and Tehelka co-founder Minty Tejpal. These interviews shed light on the world of cricket betting, its sinister ties to the underworld, notably Dawood Ibrahim, and the vulnerabilities of Indian cricket to corruption and exploitation due to the absence of proper safeguards, partly attributed to the Indian cricket board’s ignorance.

Tejpal, with his enthusiastic storytelling, keeps viewers engaged but can be equally exasperating with his self-indulgence. However, the absence of senior journalist Pradeep Magazine, who extensively covered cricket corruption, is a notable omission.

A central character, Manoj Prabhakar, is not physically present but looms large through archival footage. He made a stunning claim that Kapil Dev offered him ₹25 lakhs to throw a game. Bahal and Tejpal reveal how they skillfully roped in the outspoken Prabhakar to conduct a sting operation, employing clandestine cameras rarely used in India, forming the basis of the Tehelka documentary “Fallen Heroes.”

The film thoroughly examines the fall from grace of one such hero, Mohammad Azharuddin. Top CBI officials Ravi Sawani and Neeraj Kumar recall the exhaustive scrutiny of Azhar’s assets and the moment when, after initial stonewalling, he confessed upon being presented with incriminating documents. The documentary also delves into the case of Ajay Sharma, the Indian batsman who, like Azhar, received a life ban from the BCCI. Notably, there is no mention of other Indian players who received lesser bans due to their associations with bookies.

Noteworthy Omissions

The film, while comprehensive, leaves certain intriguing facets unexplored. For instance, the bizarre events of a one-day match in Kanpur in 1994, where Prabhakar and Nayan Mongia failed to capitalize on a winning position against West Indies, are not addressed. Kapil Dev’s vehement denial of Prabhakar’s claims is depicted, but his emotional breakdown during a BBC interview regarding his family’s hardships during the investigation is not mentioned. The film also touches on the activities of prominent bookie MK Gupta but overlooks figures like bookie Sanjeev Chawla and Rajesh Kalra, significant players in the Hansie Cronje affair.

While the documentary “Caught Out” is undoubtedly stylish, engaging, and dramatic, it leaves viewers with incompleteness, much like Azhar’s tumultuous cricket career. It serves as a potent reminder of a bygone era, illuminating the dark alleys of Indian cricket for a global audience and rekindling the conversation on a chapter that, despite its closure, continues to intrigue and captivate.

Finally, as a die hard fan of cricket, you should check our best 21 cricket games list.

Other Sports Movies


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *