Scoop: Is Imran Based on an Actual Reporter?

Scoop’ is an Indian Hindi-language crime and legal drama series that centers around Jagruti Pathak, a Senior Crime Journalist with the newspaper Eastern Age. A part of a very stressful and highly competitive field, Jagruti lands in hot water when she’s nabbed by the police for her alleged involvement in the assassination of Jaideb Sen, a crime reporter like her and her professional rival. The Netflix series, created by Hansal Mehta and Mrunmayee Lagoo Waikul, features the talents of Karishma Tanna, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Prosenjit Chatterjee, Harman Baweja, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Deven Bhojani, and Ira Dubey.

Throughout the dramatic and thrilling story, Jagruti is guided by the wisdom of her mentor, Imran, a veteran journalist with an eye for when a story is to be shown to the world. His soul-piercing gaze is enough to turn even hardened officers and well-known journalists from other media houses to avert their own eyes, and his righteousness acts as a lighthouse for all. But just who is Imran, and what is the story behind him beyond what we saw in ‘Scoop?’ Let’s dive in and find out together!

Imran is Based on a Real Person

Imran is a real person. In ‘Scoop,’ which is inspired by journalist Jigna Vora biographical memoir titled ‘Behind Bars in Byculla: My Days in Prison,’ Imran’s character has been clearly inspired by veteran journalist and author S. Hussain Zaidi. Zaidi, one of India’s most prolific investigative journalists, is considered an authority in everything related to mobster Dawood Ibrahim and the Mumbai underworld.

The memoir by Jigna Vora describes her time in Byculla jail following the assassination of journalist Jyotirmoy Dey, which has been presented in ‘Scoop’ through a number of fictionalized characters with real-life characteristics. One of them happens to be Imran, whose basis in real-life is S. Hussain Zaidi. Much like Imran in the Netflix series, Zaidi acted as a mentor to Jigna Vora, as well as her Editor during her time at The Asian Age (transformed into Eastern Age in ‘Scoop’). He has since then worked for several major Indian publications such as The Indian Express, Mid-Day, and Mumbai Mirror.

Aside from his career as a journalist and his well-known animosity towards the Mumbai underworld, Zaidi’s work has inspired major film and television productions as well. In fact, in 2020 Netflix released a film titled ‘Class of ‘83’ – about a brilliant police officer who is assigned the position of Dean of the Police Academy as punishment – which is based on the non-fiction book ‘The Class of 83’ written by Zaidi himself. With such a commanding presence and an expansive career, it would be difficult for any writer to do his character justice on screen, but Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub plays the role extremely well.

Ayyub’s depiction of a straightforward and empathic journalist, with only a salt-and-pepper look to show his age and status as somebody who’s been in the field for several years, fits perfectly with how people perceive him to be 99 percent of the time. But the other 1 percent is when Imran’s anger towards the injustices of society and at his own colleagues for falling into the same corrupt patterns that they report on is scary, at least for the other characters in the show (scarily good in the case of the viewers).

When asked about how he landed the role in an interview with Hindustan Times, Zeeshan smiled and revealed how he’d been called to casting director Mukesh Chabra’s office one fine day, where the show’s creator Hansal Mehta was present. The latter simply said to him that he was making a show and that there was a very good role in it which he should do, and the actor immediately agreed. Zeeshan’s sincerity and conviction in the character, as well as his own personal ideology that matches with Imran, are proof that his casting was a stroke of brilliance on the creators’ part.

“We’re [his character Imran and he] similar to quite an extent, especially in terms of having a righteous mindset. I also wish that I lead life the right way and a righteous way, and I do try. And I think Imran is the same – he’s also trying – which I really loved about the character that it’s not like he’s successfully able to do it, he’s also struggling, even at that age. That motivates you on another level, and I see this similarity. I saw it and thought that when I reach that age, I would also like to live my life like that only,” the actor said about the character in an interview with India Today.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Facebook

Imran’s character arc in ‘Scoop’ sticks quite close to the facts related to S. Hussain Zaidi’s real life, especially the way he stood by Jigna Vora’s side at the time of her incarceration even when every other journalist was slinging mud on her and using that mud to sell their own newspapers and channels to the public. A brilliant reporter and an upstanding person with the ability to differentiate between right and wrong, Zaidi is echoed without a shred of fictionalization (other than the name) in Imran.

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