Sunday, June 08, 2008

SARKAR RAJ! Oh, dear!

It all began back in June 2005. No I’m not talking about RGV’s first instalment of The Adventures of Subhash Nagre. Yea, actually that too but not entirely that!
After managing to get into one of the “top-notch” media schools of the country, me and Anand, classmates since degree-college decided to celebrate watching Sarkar at CineMax, Sion or CinePlanet as we SIES guys always knew it.
Yes, yes! When parents were still the source of the green gold, going to the movies was part of celebration plans. Now, of course, it is a necessity!
That rainy afternoon, this RGV loyalist found another piece of work to swear by!
Cut to June 6, 2008! Comes Sarkar Raj and I couldn’t wait to finish the long day at work and head to the theater again.
The guys at work refused to spend as much as they would have to at the multiplexes in South Mumbai while I couldn’t possibly stay for a late night show at a single screen out there.
So I headed to Huma, Kanjur Marg for a 10 pm show! No, I don’t find it uncool at all to go to the movies alone.
After catching up on a smoke in that ultra cool smoking lounge at Huma, I hurry into the hall. Things look confusing as the movie “begins”. I turn to the dude next to me and ask, “Has it been long?” He looks at me and makes a bored face. Further confusion!
It wasn’t long till I realised that I’m supposed to be in Screen 4 and it was Screen 3 that I was in and I was actually watching the flick post interval. I get up and seem horribly lost. People get impatient and start hooting. “Baith na, saale!” (Sit down, you sonofabitch!). Swallow me, mother earth!
I run to Screen 4 and find that just as that afternoon in 2005, I’ve missed the beginning! Oh whatever! Just bring it on now, Varma!
As the first hour rolls by, I’m pleased. The 200 bucks ain’t gonna go to waste after all but I didn’t expect it to either! The language of the eyes is at it again! I’d never forget it in the first movie and seems I’m in for a treat.
RGV is at it again! Those crazy tight close-ups take you into the psyche of the character almost to feel as powerful or vulnerable as Subhash Nagre or as in the first movie as betrayed as Vishnu Nagre! Vintage RGV!
Come interval and I’m back at the lounge puffing my Gold Flake and telling Neha over the phone, “Insane movie, boss!”
I run back to my seat and that’s when it all begins to fall apart! There is as much sign of the good work Varma does in the first half as there is the Sheppard Power Plant in the movie!
I just sit and stay amazed at how a man can lose a plot this bad and at this pace! It’s like Federer losing after having 3 match points at the end of the third set. As I would’ve asked Roger (if he knew I existed), I want to ask RGV, “Dude, how could you?”
I would not say that the man is at his wit’s end and he does not know what he is doing! I’m sure he does but he fails to offer me anything new. He goes back to his first movie, takes the same stuff, assigns it to other characters this time and goes ahead with it. The film loses pace, plot and I wish it lost me because I still had to catch that last train home!
Besides the weak screenplay and storyline, there is enough to celebrate the movie though!
As usual, the performances! This is once again, Amitabh Bachchan’s movie. No, I’m not a big fan of the Bachchans but it is him and him alone who can finish a job with this panache.
What I adored most in Sarkar was the development of a character, from powerful to powerless as in Subhash Nagre or from a mature, sober boy to a powerhouse like a Shankar Nagre.
The senior Bachchan captures the right emotion to the core once more in Sarkar Raj. Watch him ooze power even in Subhash Nagre’s vulnerability. Watch him turn vengeful in the second half. You know why he is what he is. I’m not celebrating Amitabh Bachchan, let me clarify once again but then this man could turn Midas when he wants to.
Abhishek Bachchan fails though. Ramu proudly said that the son is better than the father in the first movie. Although I didn’t excitedly subscribe to the thought but at some level, I agreed.
Subhash Nagre says in Sarkar Raj that a father’s biggest victory is his loss to his son. I think there still is time before Amitabh Bachchan could say that for real.
Shankar Nagre’s character is not allowed to grow much like Sarkar. His somber expressions are overdone. The emotions are almost static. There is little to cheer in Abhishek’s solemn performance. It’s sad because we all know he’s better than that.
His better half is bang on target though. From the ambitious chief executive officer to a helpless audience to a son doting on his father and a father hell bent on vengeance and then to the cold corporate once more. Now, that is not stagnation.
It is in the eyes. You could mute the movie and still get goose bumps as the Nagres pierce the screen with their eyes.
My favourite scene in the movie is the one a little before the interval when the camera zooms out showing a weak Subhash Nagre standing with his head hung. Not a word said but the picture indeed speaks a thousand words. I wish Sarkar Raj had learnt more of the right lessons from Sarkar.
I shouldn’t be forgetting to mention Ravi Kale (Chander). Always in the shadow but yet standing his own ground. Sayaji Shinde (Karunesh Kanga) hams but that is nothing new. Govind Namdeo is crisp as Hassan Qazi but nowhere close to Zakir Hussain or Rashid as we knew and hated him. Victor Banerjee (Mike Rajan) is wasted and a promising actor as Upendra Limaye [(Kanti Lal Vora) (think Page 3, think Traffic Signal)] could’ve done a better job.
Supriya Pathak (Pushpa Nagre) continues as the stoical wife of the protagonist. Lesser role than the first movie but she carves her own space, just as well.
Just like Varma’s other movies, there is usually this one actor who appears from nowhere, does great work and disappears later. Remember Prasad Purandare? I don’t blame you if you don’t. Good ol’ Zamir from Ab Tak Chappan!
That is Rajesh Shringarpore (Sanjay Somji) for you in Sarkar Raj. The typical fanatical Maharashtra leader of the masses. No offences. Somewhere I’m thinking of Raj Thackeray as I was even during the movie. Hee hee!
Needless to say, I missed KK Menon. Who’d forget Vishnu Nagre saying “Kya karega Sarkar?”!!! Subhash Nagre exclaims as the movie ends that he wants Chickoo back from Nagpur. How surprised would I be if KK returns in the next sepia overdose!!! Damn, I’m too filmy!
The soundtrack deserves a special mention. The songs have been aptly composed and much like RGV used just right in the movie.
Who are Bappi and Tutul? I don’t know but by God, they deliver! Tell me if Chaah Bhanwar Trishna does not creep you out. Kailash Kher hits the right notes with Jalwa! The trademark Govinda is back! I can’t help but maintain that Kher is one of the best voices in the country currently.
The movie is crisper in terms of editing, camerawork and sound design! If only the story would’ve been given some more attention!
Sarkar Raj left me wanting a lot more in spite of all that I seem to appreciate about it. But a movie eventually is the tale you tell, right? And by the way Ram Gopal Varma is going, I’m skeptical for what he has to offer ahead.
This is a personal experience of a Sarkar fan. People might still like Sarkar Raj but I couldn’t help but go to Huma Friday hoping this edition would better the first one. I shouldn’t have wanted to draw parallels, right? The canvas was large enough for Sarkar Raj to stand on its own but somewhere, no, I could not help it!
Damn, I miss the Shiva, Satya, Company, Ab Tak Chappan days! Man, Anand, you should’ve been here!


All things bright and Biprorshee


peeling off the writing on the wall said...

boy! your review bowled my senses over! Good Job!

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rishi said...

Honestly, this movie didn't do anything to me. Not in the beginning, not towards the end, nowhere!