SHARJAH: An Indian man in Sharjah has been flooded with unsolicited phone calls from around the world ever since the second season of hit crime thriller Sacred Games released on Netflix on August 15.
The reason? His mobile number is flashing as fictional gangster Sulaiman Isa’s number in the first episode of the new season.
“I have been getting incessant calls on my phone for the last three days from India, Pakistan, Nepal, the UAE and around the world. I don’t know what is happening. Hearing my phone ring sends shivers down my spine. I want to cancel my number. I want this problem to go away,” said Kunhabdulla CM in his native south Indian language Malayalam.
Originally from Kasargode in northern Kerala, Kunhabdulla, 37, works for a local oil company and has never heard of Sacred Games, the blockbuster web series on Netflix starring award-winning talents Saif Ali Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Khan plays a Sikh cop in the TV series while Siddiqui plays a Mumbai-based crime lord.
What’s Sacred Games? A video game? I work from 8am to 7pm. I don’t have time for such things. This is a problem that refuses to go away. I am really worried whether I am entangled in problems that aren’t my choice
“What’s Sacred Games? A video game? I work from 8am to 7pm. I don’t have time for such things. This is a problem that refuses to go away. I am really worried whether I am entangled in problems that aren’t my choice,” he said.
Kunhabdulla said he is at a loss to understand why he has been deluged with so many calls overnight.
Who is Isa?
“I got more than 30 calls today [Sunday] and it’s draining my battery. In the last one hour, I got five calls asking for someone called Isa. I even went to the telephone operator’s office to report this. I just want to somehow cancel this number. I don’t want to face any problems. Who is Isa? I don’t have anything to do with him,” he said.
An audibly upset Kunhabdulla has also approached his friends to help him out of this ‘mess’ that wasn’t his doing.
His biggest fear is that he will be detained at the airport and questioned over a possible mistaken identity.
Kunhabdulla’s number went public in the scene where an undercover Indian agent from Kenya hands a chit to Ganesh Gaitonde (Siddiqui) bearing the number of dreaded gangster Isa played by Saurabh Sachdeva. Although the number is not visible on the small piece of paper, the subtitles give it away.
It’s this blooper that is giving Kunhabdulla sleepless nights.
“This has created so much tension in my life. I am just an earnest worker trying to do my job here. I don’t know what to do,” he said.
Shortly after Gulf News brought the matter to the attention of Netflix, the American media-services provider and production company wrote to the newspaper saying that they have removed Kunhabdulla’s number.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused. As soon as we were alerted to the situation, we resolved the issue and removed the phone number from the subtitles,” Netflix said in a statement to Gulf News on Monday.
Puneet Agarwal, 26, told BBC he was receiving more than 100 calls a day since the movie was released on July 26 this year.
“I don’t even dream any more,” he said. “The phone keeps ringing until four in the morning,” Agarwal was quoted as saying.
Why do phone numbers in movies start with 555?
Ever wondered why phone numbers in TV shows and movies always start with the numbers 555?
The main reason movies and television shows used a 555-XXXX number is because, for decades, nobody was assigned a phone number beginning with 555—with the exception of an operator for directory assistance at 555-1212.
Jamie Buchan, author of Easy as Pi: The Countless Ways We Use Numbers Every Day, reckons that the use of 555 started because, “The repeated digit may have made the combination memorable, which helped it gain traction.
Numbers beginning with 555 were only used in Hollywood starting in 1973, but that all changed in 1994. It is believed the run ended when a contractor to the Federal Communications Commission, the North American Numbering Plan Administration, began accepting applications for these numbers from the public. They were meant to be dialed nationally or across broad regions of the continent, without regard to area code, on the model of 555-1212, the directory assistance number.”
5 memorable 555 numbers from movies and TV shows
1. The Simpsons – Mr Plow, 636-555-3226
2. Ghostbusters – The Ghostbusters, 555-2368
3, Bruce Almighty – God’s number, 555-0123 (eventually)
4. Good Will Hunting - Skylar’s 555-1294
5. Last Action Hero - Store 555-2310