The Medal Heist: Reimagining Indian athletes as Money Heist characters
It is officially time to hum along to Bella Ciao as the final season of Money Heist has arrived in peak Olympic season - we cannot help but re-cast hence!
There is something about Netflix shows and cliffhangers as Season 4 of Spanish crime drama series Money Heist (La Casa de Papel) lingered to a halt in the most nail-biting of moments, freezing time, with the gun pointed at The Professor. Since then, it has been an endless wait for the next season and finally, a year and a raging pandemic to take stock of, Netflix is releasing Volume 1 of the fifth and final season of the celebrated series - Money Heist!
While we get our tub of popcorn ready and get ready to watch the final season unfurl - our mind is still buzzing about Indian Olympians given the Tokyo Olympics hangover we are currently having and the current medal loot being done by the Indians at the Tokyo Paralympics. Indulge us a little hence as we can't help but imagine some of our favourite Indian players who'd morph right into the characters of Money Heist!
The Professor — Prakash Padukone
In social media and millennial parlance, Prakash Padukone is the OG here, just like The Professor. Remaining behind the scenes and pulling the strings, Prakash Padukone has played an instrumental role in shaping up the Indian badminton scene producing Pullela Gopichand, who in turn, fashioned champion shuttlers like Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth and hoisted Indian badminton to soaring heights.
Tokyo - PV Sindhu
Impulsive is the one word we associate with Tokyo, one of the key protagonists as well as the narrator of Money Heist. A 2-time Olympic medallist with a silver and a bronze to her name, Sindhu also has a World Champion crown and most of these achievements have come because of Sindhu's style of play - aggressive, attacking, tricky and deceptive - Sindhu is never afraid to play risky shots and nobody can be a better Tokyo than her!
Nairobi - Mary Kom
One of the most memorable characters from Money Heist - it's difficult to forget Nairobi or get over her fate in the previous season - in fact, we are still not totally over it. The enthusiastic one of the lot yet with concerns extending to her family, particularly her children, Nairobi's counterpart in the Indian sporting landscape finds resonance with Mary Kom - the champion boxer and a bronze medallist from the 2012 London Olympics.
Berlin - Abhinav Bindra
Assisting The Professor on many of his master plans, Berlin used to be cool and calm and had a penchant for playing mind games with the hostages. A mind brimming with ideas, Berlin was charming and eloquent as well and who better than the prim and proper golden boy of Indian shooting - Abhinav Bindra, who fits this description better? A former shooter now, Bindra was the first individual Olympic gold medallist from the country and currently, his master brain is working to grow the culture of Olympism in the country. (Psst, more medal loots around the corner on the biggest of stages for India, if this happens, for sure!)
Rio - Vidit Gujrathi
Often playful and apparently naive, Rio is the computer geek who takes hacking way too seriously and ensures the proper execution of the complex heists through his technology perks. Vidit Gujrathi, the chess Grand Master - also prone to being the one with the mind games and being technologically savvy fits in well here, especially with boyish charm and the easy good looks that they generously share!
Moscow - Leander Paes
Moscow was the fatherly and wise figure of the Money Heist series with an eternal presence of sorts. Leander Paes, is the obvious selection for this role as the 48-year-old tennis ace with 18 Grand Slam titles to his name and even a bronze triumph at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics has been present on the tennis scene for the longest of times. Many have come and gone after him but Paes, has held fort, much like Moscow who has been super protective towards Tokyo and Rio and his son, Denver.
Denver - Neeraj Chopra
Son to Moscow, Denver is quiet and sensitive but can also get fired up! An instant reminder to India's latest golden boy - star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, Denver has strains of similarity with the 23-year-old from Haryana - be it the natural good looks or his popularity with the women folk, Neeraj and Denver tick a lot of boxes, especially with their good-hearted and well-focussed natures.
Helsinki - Bajrang Punia
Don't always go by the teddy bear appearance of Helsinki or his emotional bouts as Helsinki is quite the rational and intellectual sort and definitely not someone to trifle with - as that will land you in trouble. Bronze medallist from the Tokyo Olympics, wrestler Bajrang Punia fits in well with this character as he isn't someone to mess around with as his personality on the mat can be formidable.
Palermo - Vijender Singh
Finally, we come to Palermo - he may not be well-liked initially but there are several layers to his complex character. Yet another clever personality, instrumental in making plans, being deceitful and complex and skilled and passionate about whatever he does, Palermo takes a while to grow on you. Vijender Singh - the very first Indian boxer to win a medal at the Olympics is definitely like Palermo - growing slowly on your hearts and definitely being someone you cannot ignore! Like Palermo's redemption arc, Vijender too turned pro in 2015 and stepped away from the Olympic stage, much like Palermo would initially stay away from the plan before coming onboard.