Ramgopal Varma's tribute to 'The Godfather' is engrossing fare.
The film was touted by some as being part 'Godfather' and part 'Life and times of Bal Thakaray'(whyever for, one wonders!). But the similarity with the politician's life is just cosmetic. The beads, the dhoti and the glasses. All similarities end there. Now on to the real story.
'Sarkar', Subhash Nagre, (Amitabh Bachchan) believes in the film's tagline, 'there are no rights or wrongs, only power'. He runs an underworld gang which works for the benefit of the people. Albeit the methods which he uses are illegal, he goes ahead and uses them anyway. The people swear by him. Due to his populist persona he is also a powerful cog in the state's political machinery, although he is outside of it. His elder son (KK Menon) assists him is this enterprise. Vishnu is hot headed, power hungry and careless. Shankar (Abhishek Bachchan) , the younger son, is educated, soft spoken and only mildly acquainted with this dark, murky world of crime, henchmen and politics. However, Sarkar is surrounded by mafia men who have had enough of his non profit, charitable ways and want to see him dead. A conspiracy is hatched, Nagre's own family members are used as pawns and he ends up in jail on charges of murder. How he overcomes this and how his son, Shankar Nagre, takes over the empire forms the crux of the story.
The film is good, no doubt. Amitabh's acting is great as usual. KK Menon is good as the bad son and Abhishek turns in a competant, understated performance as the younger son, slowly taking over his father's empire. The supporting cast is fabulous, although some of the actors like Supria Pathak, Rukhsar, Tanisha, Katrina Kaif and Anupam Kher get limited scope to display their talents. The director uses deep focus and close ups to convey the grim proceedings and to highlight the conflicts and the emotions that the characters are going through. Abhishek excels in this regard. His expressions are honest and spot on. But in using this technique, RGV slows down the pace of the film, in the post interval portions, considerably. At some points, I almost blurted, 'got the idea Mr. Varma, now get on with it!'. Another complaint is the cliched villain characterizations. The Chandraswamy clone and the South Indian Don have all been done time and time again by fellow makers of commercial cinema. One didn't expect them to reappear in RGV's 'Sarkar'.
The background score by Amar Mohile is another strength. It's sinister and draws the viewer into the story. And at just over 2 hours, the film is prefect in his length. Barring a few slow sequences, it keeps the viewer engrossed.
After a disappointing 'Naach', a return to form for Ramgopal Varma. Now we wait for 'RGV ka Sholay'!