Sarkar has Ram Gopal Varma play an innings that remind you of Virender Sehwag.
This recklessly compiled quick-fire century has him despatching the ball beyond the boundary at least a dozen times. But, Sarkar also has an equal number of loose shots and in some places, it does not even connect!
You would have seen Sehwag play such an innings with brilliance and carelessness both written all over it.
There are easily about a dozen scenes in ‘Sarkar’ that stay with you long after the movie is over. I saw it yesterday first day first show. And I still remember some of the lines and scenes. There are moments that totally ROCK!!
The first 20 minutes explode on to the screen with raw power as Varma shows us his desi Don Corleone, a Safed Baal wala Thackeray, as Subhash Nagre, the man much respected by the people.
The first Act of the film is probably it’s best.
Varma gives us the beautiful details — what his characters are, what is their world like, what do they all stand for and what could be the possible conflict. Bachchan Sr. is first rate with a controlled performance that banks on Varma’s choice of close-ups and assorted shots that bring out his body language and non-verbal communication. Jr. has nothing much to do here.
The guy who steals the scene from right below the Bachchan’s nose is the other son sitting at the table. K K who plays Vishnu (Sonny Corleone) lights up the frames with his electric presence, menacing energy and intensity that could only be matched by Bachchan Sr. in his younger days. The verbal exchange at the dinner table and the tension it packs is a high point! That’s a six!
Next over, the baddies surface. And lazy ass screenwriter Manish Gupta begins to show his weakness. The villains are probably the weakest link in the film. There’s Rashid, a Dubai-based smuggler who’s idea of acting is to stare through his glasses. There’s a a golt-villain talking horrible Tamil and there are the usual bad ass politicians. Almost run-out. Of ideas, of course.
Like my friend said after the movie: “It looked like a scene out of one of those MGR movies. All the bad guys get together and do the evil laugh after they plan. For a minute I thought I was watching M.N.Nambiar there.”
Yes, he did have a point. The villains are weak indeed. And screenwriting just makes them look like clowns in a comic book! This is where the middle Act suffers. The conflict in the film is very weak and second rate. Pitting son against father had so much more potential… Malik and Chandu were pitted against each other in Company with greater finesse, so much that your heart went out to them when they split. It made the proceedings in the second half absolutely riveting.
Here, Varma is let down by his scriptwriter Manish Gupta. If the script is weak, no amount of direction and style can elevate it. If the lines are bad, no amount of non-verbal cues can compensate. Not that all lines are bad. Some of the punch lines work! And HOW!! But in most parts of the film, the lines are pretty average, the sub-plots are very under-developed and the secondary characters of the film poorly etched. Luca Brasi and the Consigliori in The Godfather were wonderfully described characters. Here, they are reduced to stereotypes. Caught and dropped.
Also, here there’s absolutely no graphic violence! Godfather was like the baap of violent movies. Here, it’s very subdued. Not too much imagery as such, just a hint of rawness with use of dumb-bells and sledgehammer to break the monotonous nature of gun-shot violence. Clever shots.
Though it is his homage to The Godfather, it is not really an remake. It is only half-adapted from the movie and half inspired by certain incidents from the Shiv Sena leaders life, but the director smartly steers clear of politics and abstains from giving his don any religious colour.
It is in the second act that the movie goes a little downhill as the Varma executes some corny run-of-the-mill scenes that lack plausibility. The sequences of Shankar’s (Abhishek Bachchan’s) escape and his attempt to save his Dad have the film at its lowest and weakest. Varma at his sketchy worst! The mistimed hook, the off-balanced pull and dropped at slip. Embarassing.
The background score, though overdone, heightens the tension and is perfect for the mood of the film. It totally works for me. Another six.
As a result of a messed up middle, the final act, when Shankar takes over, starts on a weak footing. But a couple of good scenes and the finale salvage the film to a level of respectability. The last few scenes when Shankar hunts down the enemies of Sarkar have the stamp of the master blaster of Bollywood. And Varma reaches his century with a six!
The filmmaker mixes fact and fiction, Corleone and Bal Thackeray, slick style and half-baked substance with equal doses of recklessness and brilliance. Certainly not his best, but definitely watchable! Go for it.
I am supposed to review this movie for my paper. So I’ll watch it again. And you guys watch out for the Updated review.