A crucial scene in Satya 2 gives a new meaning to ‘two birds with one stone’. A bullet fired from behind a billboard featuring Katrina Kaif pierces Katrina’s eye, penetrates its first target and then hits another and both victims succumb. This is just one of the howlers in the ambitious sequel to the 90s cult film Satya, which was marked by a solid plot, good writing and some fine performances. Satya cemented Ram Gopal Varma’s place in the film industry as a force to reckon with and inspired many aspiring filmmakers. To watch this sequel expecting similar magic would be hara-kiri.

The Telugu version is set in Hyderabad that’s now a metropolis welcoming thousands of migrants seeking new livelihoods into its fold. Against a number of aerial shots of Charminar and the Panjagutta-Greenlands flyover, a voiceover sets crime in the context of rich-poor divide, politics and a corrupt system. Satya (a straight-haired, solemn looking Sharwanand) arrives in Hyderabad, smart talks his way to getting a job in a real estate firm and soon begins to call the shots in crime.

Satya’s swift climb to the top of the newly-formed underworld or Company is never convincing, given the non-existent plot and sloppy storytelling. There are no sharp dialogues and no believable performances. The film wants us to believe the Company is intimidating and all-pervasive but we end up laughing at the silly plot, interspersed by bloodshed at regular intervals. There are also a few dizzying shots Varma’s recent films are infamous for. One shot shows Charminar and its precincts upside down and another whirring aerial shot of the flyovers is enough to induce a headache.

Most actors appear bored and some of them sorely lack screen presence. Anaika Soti tries too hard to be erotic and fails miserably in a role that makes her look dumb instead of naïve. There’s an aspiring actress called ‘Special’ who keeps insisting there’s a story behind her curious name. The story is never revealed and we couldn’t care less. Sharwanand is one of the better actors in the Telugu film industry capable of a range of emotions in even a film that requires him to come up with a restrained performance. Here he looks a bit lost.

There’s a flimsy story behind Satya’s hatred towards the moneyed lot and the police force and many unanswered questions about how he chooses members of the Company and what happens to the key members in the end. Varma’s voiceover warns of a part three where these details will be revealed.

Satya 2 is one of the better films to come out of Varma’s stable in recent times but that isn’t saying much. Curiously, as if to prove a point, Varma has also shot a romantic song in Kashmir. Varma is no Yash Chopra/Karan Johar and Sharwanand is no Shah Rukh Khan to sport sweaters and spread his arms wide.

Skip this and watch the original Satya.

SATYA 2

Cast: Sharwanand, Anaika Soti

Director: Ram Gopal Varma

Music: Amar Mohile

Bottomline: Seems like a joke in comparison to Satya