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Sarkar Raj June 7, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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“How much really can I go wrong with Sarkar Raj???” asked Ram Gopal Varma recently. Despite the statement’s overconfident tone, you would have agreed completely with it (like me) provided you’ve seen and loved Sarkar. Now that the movie is out, I want to say to Ramu “Well….you could have messed it up!”

The film begins two years after it left off with Shankar Nagre (Abhishek Bachchan) being addressed as “Sarkar” and now Shankar has established himself firmly as the trusted successor of the original Sarkar (Amitabh Bachchan). In comes Anita (Aishwarya Rai) with a proposal to set up a power plant in one of the villages of Maharashtra. Sarkar isn’t interested in it but Shankar is totally convinced about its utility for the state and presses hard to get this project sanctioned and completed. However, there is more than meets the eye with other bigwigs having vested interests in it. Like in its predecessors there are shifting loyalties, unexpected traitors et al; just like Ramu said – “It’s another series of episodes in the Nagre family”.

But then if you’ve been a fan of the first film you can’t help but notice some major flaws. First and foremost has to do with the characterization of Sarkar and Shankar. The nuances and the grey shades in both characters and the relationship between them which were wonderfully brought out in the previous flick are glaringly missing (or rather inconsistent). Here you see that the father-son duo portrayed as selfless leaders only concerned about the well being of the state and probably to justify this drastic shift there are some redemption dialogues (especially with references to Vishnu’s killing)…and these are the only moments where the “family drama” part comes in. For me, this was the biggest letdown in the movie. Also, the supporting cast of bad guys in this ones aren’t colorful and interesting like before. Only Govind Namdeo as Hasan Qazi stands out a bit. Sayaji Shinde is highly irritating. Dilip Prabhawalkar as Rao Saab is brilliant yet again in an unrecognizable get-up…I fail to recognize him in every movie until I hear his voice. Also the new guy who plays his grandson does a fine job.

If you’ve read till this point and have come to the conclusion that this is probably just an average rehash of “Sarkar” then wait….even I started thinking the same when Ramu’s creative genius pitched in at the right time and thereon the dramatic turn of events in the later portions of the movie till the climax will change your opinion. In fact, the film starts getting better only when the original “Govinda…Govinda” theme arrives. Like a lot of other aspects mentioned before, the use of the background score here pales when you start comparisons. The open-ended climax has made lot of people to speculate about another sequel…but if I had to advise Ramu after Sarkar Raj I’d only ask him to pursue that option if he is going through a bad phase and desperately needs a hit (like now).

In the final analysis, Sarkar Raj works mainly because of its gripping penultimate portions – for the rest of the time it only succeeds in reminding you what a fine film “Sarkar” was. Definitely watchable…nevertheless!


1. Sai - June 10, 2008

You are right on the money. He could have gone very wrong with this. The film just moves on with nothing terribly interesting or really unpredictable happening for a long while but then things change for the better and by the end it redeems itself. However, it still doesn’t come close to matching its predecessor.

The underlying story is pretty interesting but it isn’t really designed to take forward the story of the Sarkar family. What happens to the family becomes an incidental part of a bigger tale that is mostly political. And this can be a little disappointing if you had expectations that it would be on the lines of Sarkar (and it is natural to expect more from RGV). It isn’t all about the characters and their characterizations can be confusing at times.

I would easily believe it if someone told me now that RGV got a script for a political thriller which he retooled for the Sarkar/Bachchan family. That could explain the change in focus.

What this means is that it is mostly about the plot for which the writer (Prashant Pandey) gets the credit (though I always feel that Varma has a lot of uncredited inputs). As a director, Ramu uses a similar style as the original but the style doesn’t really enhance this film as much as it did the original because the focus seems to be more on the sinister plots and betrayals than the characters. Nevertheless, he scores points for effectively staging many scenes towards the end. I particularly liked the way the plot is revealed in the end through a monologue by Sarkar. It is quite hard to keep the audience hooked for such a duration and it could have easily fallen flat. Also, both writer and director take a particularly difficult decision in this film and a disbelieving audience was pretty much hooked till the end titles after that point in the film.

At the end of the screening, I was left wondering if the story was a bit far-fetched. But if it was straightforward, I would bicker that it was too predictable and not worth filming.

This is definitely not a bad watch at all (especially considering the other options for the audience) but it isn’t in the same league as Sarkar.

2. Sai - June 13, 2008

The performances in the film are quite good but somehow they didn’t have the same impact on me. Since these actors have performed these characters already, the freshness is probably reduced and therefore the impact. AB senior and junior take off from where they left last time. However, the supporting players who are repeated don’t get much scope this time. Among the new players, Dilip Prabhavalkar is very good and so is Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, though she doesn’t do much early on.

Aishwarya surprised me with her work in Jodha Akbar and now again in Sarkar Raj (towards the end). One scene stands outs in my mind – the one where she cries in the hospital. Now, crying is a staple in Indian cinema and the audience is generally moved by the tears on screen. However, it is overdone more often than not. But here, the tears roll down her cheek as she tries to muffle her voice, the nose twitches and the lips quiver before she finally lets the sound escape her mouth and we then know that Aishwarya can cry and that she can do a damn good job of it.

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