Sunday, July 03, 2005

The Baap of all movies: Sarkar

Humbled, Dumb-founded, Touched & Moved - were among my first reactions on seeing Ram Gopal Verma's Sarkar. To summarise the experience, it was a powerhouse of a movie ! Indeed, a movie that could keep up the high expectation, that it generated prior to its release. After a long time (probably the last one was 'Black'), a kind of movie that could be termed as cine-goers' delight, in the true sense of the word.

Subhash Nagre (Amitabh Bachchan) is the Sarkar - a figure adored & revered by masses and feared by wrong-doers. An Indianized Godfather, except that politics (and not crime) is Nagre's way. In his attempt to do good for people, he does not mind stepping over the legal boundary, nor does he confine himself to the existing rules, regulations & systems. Sarkar is the story of Nagre's family - elder son Vishnu (KK Menon), younger son Shankar (Abhsihek Bachchan), wife (Supriya Pathak in a nice come-back role), niece Avanti (Tanisha), Vishnu's wife Amrita (Rukhsar) and Shankar's lady love Pooja (Katrina Kaif). Apart from that there are the usual suspects of The Factory, great actors who were discovered by RGV during the course of his many movies, in small but significant and well designed roles of gangsters, politicians & a god-man.

Amitabh's role seems to have been carved out for him and noone else in Indian Movie Industry could have done justice to that role. The brooding eyes, the rudraksh mala in hand, the deep baritone that appears concerned one moment & commanding the next, the occassional moments which bring back flashes of the angry young man of yester years - together constitute a larger than life, but realistic image. The scene of Amitabh sipping tea from a saucer (in rustic style) with only his eyes visible above the saucer, exuding pure menace towards his opponent could probably chill a tigers blood. I cant help imagining that, if the birtplaces were swapped, may be Amitabh would have made a better Godfather than Marlon Brando. The screen presence of RGV's Nagre is in no way less spine-chilling & awe-inspiring, as compared to Coppola's Vito Corleone.

The real find of the movie seems to be Abhishek Bachchan, in his career best performance till date. He shows a resilience, which is so rare among his peers. First as the US returned uninvolved son and then as the successor to the Sarkar - he effectively proves his acting skills. Abhishek seems to have finally shed the shell of being Bib B's son and has emerged as a class actor. Watch out for the Abhishek Bachchan moments throughout the movie - especially in the later half when he takes control of the family matters. The conviction of someone, who has chosen the righteous path (albeit not always within legal limits), the trust of a son in his father & the grit to defend his family at all costs - all these emotions have been portrayed in an appealing & authentic manner. Bachchan junior has come a long way from forgetable movies like Shararat & Dhai Akshar Prem Ke - and his emergence essentially proves two things: -
  • The reason why we hear more & more of Abhishek (I am sure this trend will continue), as compared to his contemporaries like Vivek Obroi & Hrithik Roshan.
  • The fact that there will always be a Bachchan at the helm of Indian Movies.
KK Menon is intense in his role of the arrogant, short-tempered and spoilt brat in the family. He seems to have the right persona for such types of roles (remember the pshychotic jailor in the new Deewar?) and deserves compliments for choosing the right roles and doing full justice to them. Supriya Pathak makes a good comeback as the subdued & emotional life partner of Amitabh. The other ladies are merely there to fill up the space; but who cares anyway, when the two Bachchans are on the screen most of time? The significant other characters - an ambitious narcotics dealer, a south indian Don who was the protege of the Sarkar, a couple of power-hungry politician who want to get rid of Sarkar to increase their power, a Chandraswamy style shrewd & calculative Godman, a corrupt police commissioner, the PA & henchman of the Sarkar - are well placed and the corresponding actors are judiciously selected by the director. The only disappointment was Anupam Kher in a cameo role of an honest politician - it was not clear why he was talking with a bowed head & down-cast eyes, while talking of his crusade against gangsters.

The cinematography is true RGV style - arguably the best in its class. The movie does not have any songs, but the background music is haunting & enchanting. Especially the chants of "Govinda Govinda" and "Sham Daan Dand Ved" at crucial moments - adds to the effects. The movie keeps viewers so firmly glued to their seats that they hardly seem to miss the songs.

All said and done, Sarkar is a must watch for movie lovers. At the end of the year, the Filmfare awards might still be bagged by the manipulative trio of Shahrukh-Chopra-Johar. Even the media might wax eloquence about their run of the mill movies. Some section of media might try to degrade the great efforts & the real good movies (like this ass of a reviewer who has reviewed Sarkar in Rediff) - in support of the trio. But in the hearts & minds of the serious movie-goers, there will be stiff competition between Subhash Nagre of 'Sarkar' & Devraj Sahai of 'Black' - for the best on-screen performance of the year. After watching Sarkar, it would be an insult (and a tasteless experience for sure) to go and watch the other pathetic flicks that are slated for release.

The next time I head to a theatre, it would probably be to watch the Big B play Vidyadhar Ramakrishna Pattvardhan in Mahesh Manjrekar's Virrudh.

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