Sarkar Raj Movie Review

A few hours before watching this film, I was engaged in a discussion with my colleague about how his film might decide Ram Gopal Varma’s (RGV) fate. My colleague told me regardless of the movie’s fate or RGV’s previous failed attempts, class is permanent and form is temporary (this is true for most master film makers). Now, this can be interpreted in several ways, but Sarkar Raj comes a time when RGV has been completely out of form and this is his do or die film. How do we apply this adage to RGV?—that his in-form days are over or the out-of-form phase is temporary and now he has bounced back with Sarkar Raj? Unfortunately for RGV, this time around too he is not completely back in form.

‘Sarkar’ Subhash Nagre (Amitabh Bachchan) is celebrating his 6oth birthday and is proclaiming to his ‘Raj’ how proud he is off his son, Shankar Nagre (Abhishek Bachchan), who has achieved as much in so less a time. Shankar is in complete control of all aspects of the Raj and even convinces his father to accept the power plant proposed in their state by Anita Rajan (Aishwarya Rai), the CEO of a London based multinational. Shankar takes it upon himself to complete this project and dedicate it to the state. Subhash and his son have to seek the blessings of Rao Sahib, Subhash Nagre’s guru and guide, as the proposed power plant is to be built in villages where Rao Sahib is the revered leader. Rao Sahib gives his nod, but his son Somji is a violent anti-multinationals guy who is not going to allow the work to happen. Rao Sahib, apparently, has no control over him.

Shankar and Anita then take to the streets of the villages to educate the masses about the benefits of the project while Somji and his men are out to disrupt these activities. Meanwhile, there is a business man from Gujurat who wants the power plan shifted to his state and is willing to subdue Shankar if the need arises. Just when Shankar is about have a talk with Somji, there is an internal security breach within Sarkar’s fortress. Shankar seeks vengeance and gets it and just when Shankar feels everything is under his control and the project will happen, tragedy strikes again within the Sarkar family. Who is behind the conspiracy to wipe out the Sarkar family? Is the power plant the end goal or is it just a means to a larger goal? Why is there betrayal within Sarkar’s men? These questions form the rest of the story.

The first 10 minutes are great—fast, gripping, and gets to the point, and you begin to see the different camps quickly. Soon after that the film stagnates and the first half goes by without any interesting story to tell. The pre-interval twist is good. The second half too just seems to move on, but the twists towards the end are stunning. While the obvious strengths of the film are the performances and RGV’s stamp on the shot taking, the film has several weaknesses:

(1) The villains are not convincing and do not seem powerful. The reasons for enmity with the Sarkar family are not compelling

(2) The inclusion of Aishwarya Rai has only done more harm to the film than good. The romantic twinkle in her eyes towards Shankar, the bare-your-heart conversations between them, the romantic scene between them all have made the film soggy and dampen the pace of the film.

(3) While the overall story on paper is great, its structure bears a remarkable resemblance to the first Sarkar. For those who have watched and analyzed Sarkar closely will wonder why RGV would adopt the same structure and not do some original thinking.

(4) The execution of the film, particularly the revelation of the plot was not well done. The twists should be revealed through the scenes and by the characters themselves. Instead, what we have here is a Sherlock Holmes-Watson style explanation session by Subhash Nagre to Anita about how everything happened and why.

(5) Another main problem is with the uninteresting characterization of Shankar Nagre. He is shown to be too good a man with too good a character. Being the don and heir to the biggest mafia of Mumbai you’ve got to show some bad-man qualities. One can never understand why Shankar is so keen on the power plant. Towards the end, the character is shown as someone who never even understood the tricks of the trade.

(6) Abhishek and Aishwarya seemed to struggle to blend into the dark and serious atmosphere of the film. I am not comparing them to the peerless super star in Amitabh, but even compared to the rest of the cast, acting doesn’t seem to come easy to Abhishek and Aishwarya.

Sarkar Raj succeeds in parts, but fails in several areas. The pace of the film at several places is dampened and made soggy with sentiments, which just does not gel with the mood of the film. If only RGV did some original thinking for Sarkar Raj and made it stand out like the first, it would have only added to the Sarkar franchise (Yes, the foundation for the next sequel is laid out in this film) RGV tries his best to bounce back, but stops just short off the distinction mark.

Parents must know that this film is certified as U/A. There is brief violence and characters are in peril. The film, briefly, attempts to show the powers of modernity and globalization clashing with traditional  values. The debate of progress versus  tradition and the role played by politicians, regional mafia, and multi-national companies is depicted briefly. Towards the end, Ghandian values are shown in bad light. Parents might want to consider discussing with their kids the above mentioned issues.

Mr. Inkenti’s Movienomics Verdict: Only One Thumb Up. Suffers due to a dampened pace, soggy sentiments, and unconvincing characterizations and motivations.

[READERS BEWARE: SPOILERS AHEAD] Yes, how can I forget to mention: the ground for the next sequel to complete the Sarkar trilogy is also done. Now that Shankar Nagre is no longer there, Sarkar’s grandson, Chikku, son of Vishnu (who was killed in the first part by Shankar), from Nagpur has been called to be with his grandpa and Anita Rajan has joined Sarkar’s Raj. My wild card guess is that Chikku will grow up to look just like Abhishek Bachchan. Any other guesses?

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1 Comment »

  1. Hi, I like your analysis of the movie. I find that I am in agreement with everything you said. I thought I was the only one who did not like the movie.

    Here is what I wrote: http://alchemistpoonam.wordpress.com/2008/06/19/movie-review-sarkar-raj/#comment-2485

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