Film: Sarkar Raj
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Abhishek Bachchan
Direction: Ram Gopal Varma
Our dream merchants are not renowned for tackling politico-business dramas. But doing exactly that is Ram Gopal Varma. He attempts to impart a new sheen, a new soul to his earlier success ‘Sarkar’. The sequel arrives, riding on the first reunion of the Bachchan trio since Aishwarya Rai decided to add Bachchan to her name. There is interest, there is curiosity. And there is a feel-good factor post-Sarkar. All that, however, is not sufficient to rescue Sarkar Raj. It is a movie that lives in moments, and dies in a couple of hours.
As long as you are inside the hall, there are times when Varma gives us glimpses of what made him the entity he is: an intrepid filmmaker with a vision and a technique of his own.
His identifiable camera angles, the interplay of light and shadow, the close cropped visage shots-these are all there. And there are no surprises either in Amar Mohile’s background score that works to a crescendo as the guys head towards a confrontation.
Oh, but by the way, there are no surprises in the story: closely based on the life of a Mumbai politician who has never occupied an office of responsibility but continues to wield extra-constitutional authority. This time, we have Bachchan Senior as Sarkar with the trademark rudraksha, the spotless white kurta-pyjama and ponderous movement to go with few, very few words. He is an aged figure, whose throne is virtually being run by his son, Bachchan Junior as Shankar. He is a man who believes in action and does not brook a ‘no’ for reply.
There is a confrontation boiling with a new mega power plant project mooted by Anita, a CEO of a power MNC. Does Aishwarya’s character fill in the gap with a certain Enron project not long ago? Here, the project will help Maharashtra but uproot some 40,000 people. Shankar looks at the larger picture in the long run. Sarkar, initially, only at the immediate. There is plenty of scope for Varma to dwell on and build a story. Not to be so. The initial confrontation is over as soon as it begins as Varma decides to throw in other characters to give greater resemblance to the real-life power drama in Maharashtra.
There is a rabble rousing young man in spectacles, deliberately given a smaller role. The similarity with a Mumbai politician in the news is too hard to ignore.
How the project goes out of the hand of the senior pro and he ends up losing his family members and clout makes for an interesting storyline. The film has a dark feel which does not get compensated with enough shots of sunshine or daytime.
The camera is an intrusive companion at times and you long to get the complete picture rather than merely looking at a grumpy Abhishek or teary-eyed Aishwarya.
Sorry, Sarkar Raj is unlikely to rule either at the box office or tug at your heart strings.
ZIYA US SALAM