Film: Sarkar Raj
Banner: K Sera Sera, Adlabs Films Ltd
Director: Ram Gopal Varma
Producer: Ram Gopal Varma, Praveen Nischol
Star – Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Govind Namdeo, Tanisha Mukherjee
It is that time in the rule of Sarkar when Subhash Nagre (Amitabh Bachchan) is taking a backseat, giving his son Shankar the leash for the ascendancy to his throne. Shankar (Abhishek Bachchan), idealistic, passionate and single-minded about the greater good is a rising star almost as-well loved by the people as his celebrated father. Except an aching memory of his elder son, now deceased, all looks rosy in Subash Nagre’s world.
But the glory, the hope and the dream of a better tomorrow is soon taken over by treachery and manipulations of the corrupt turning an electrical power plant project into a cesspool of power-play. The paradise of Sarkar is shaken and the objective becomes the subjective. As Shankar says, ‘everything is personal from now on’.
Ram Gopal Varma attempts to perniciously explore the dynamics of power with this film. Paced and measured, Sarkar Raj takes us through the political doings and un-doings of the Nagre family with the constant dialectic of good vs. greed. The film unashamedly explores the brazen limits the corrupted in the socio-political-corporate circuit will go to, for their own agendas.
Sarkar Raj remains true to the world and the characters it portrayed so vividly in part one. The impassioned loyalty of son to father, the staunch fervour of Sarkar to put his people first, the nexus of criminal, selfish minds holding seats of power around him, and the subsequent actions and reactions resulting from it still stays. This, the sequel recreates successfully from the prequel.
Successively, it etches distinct character growth to further its cause. Subhash Nagre’s on-his-way-to-retirement, basking-in-his-son’s-achievement’s father is as much a development of changing times as his nerves of steel politician an undiminished trait from the earlier film. Shankar’s acumen for independent decisions and incisive thinking bespeaks a man-in-charge of an empire unlike the artless youth in awe of his idol father of the first part.
However, character growth and revelation is also as caricatured as it is sensitive. While the pegs in the massive power game remain food-hogging, song-singing, funnily moustachioed stereotyped villains that evoke little fear, there is also a foreign-returned, CEO of an MNC, far-removed from the world of politics and power-play whose metamorphosis is not only interesting but also engaging to watch (Aishwarya Rai). From the representative of the hard-nosed corporate culture, to revealing her human, searching and vulnerable side, to her final transformation she is a delight to watch. Nevertheless, her character as integral to the film as the Bachchan father-son duo, is secondary and at many a times defunct, gaining prominence, even if in the sidelines, only post-interval.
Needless to say, the three main characters and their individual spaces over-power the film and its ulterior explorations. Amitabh Bachchan’s Subhash Nagre is like the character. A tiger past his prime but his bite still bleeds that much blood. Abhishek Bachchan’s character affords a less layered performance than his father’s but he steals the scenes that merit pendulous shifts. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan revels in the close-ups that are the mainstay of this film. From her business-like aloofness to her defenceless moments, she delivers incredible moments that markedly show how under-used the actress is otherwise.
Ram Gopal Varma tells of a world full of rage, revenge and raw energy and the music keeps the mood. Loud but not deafening the background score portentously moves from dangerous to suspicious to action-packed, overtaking the proceedings only for a while. Master of technique, RGV comes up with shots that are as breathtaking in their innovation as they are over-ambitious, clouding expression with the technique. He experiments massively with mood lighting, simple shift focus and makes both work fantastically.
RGV’s Sarkar Raj is not flawless but after a long time here is honest and powerful story-telling from the maker who had made films factory products. Difficult to pan and more difficult to ignore, Sarkar Raj will remain as one of the more memorable offerings from the maker of Shiva, Satya and Company. May this phenomenon continue.