Varma just had to write a decent screenplay and keep a tighter leash on his obsessions and lunacy.
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Amit Sadh, Jackie Shroff, Manoj Bajpayee, Ronit Roy, Yami Gautam, Rohini Hattangari
Director: Ram Gopal Varma
Ram Gopal Varma’s Sarkar 3 doesn’t begin where Sarkar Raj (2008) ended. It opens to what can only be described as a ham fest.
Subhash Nagre (Amitabh Bachchan) is on a tiny stage, addressing men waving yellow flags. With a gruff and nasal timbre to his baritone, he’s hollering on about power, people’s and his own. One hand mein mala, other hand mein bhala is the kind of menacing threat that he and his people need to issue to certain malevolent men who are after their jobs and zameen.
The overreach in rhetoric and delivery is cloying. But it’s AB, and I’m sort of in the mood.
In a room elsewhere, somewhere, Shivaji Nagre aka Cheeku (Amit Sadh) is sipping the Nagres’ favourite drink — chai — while watching news. Silly cinematographer Amol Rathod tries to frame Cheeku the way Amit Roy immortalised Vishnu (K.K. Menon) in the original, Sarkar (2005). That’s not even an apples and oranges situation. It’s more like a gadha-ghoda tragedy.
We are not even five minutes into the film and it’s already screaming disaster. Worse follows.
Upon returning home, which is a much quieter, darker, humbler place than the grand mansion he lived in before, Subhash Nagre carries out what’s supposed to be a meaningful, pious ritual. He takes a brass lota and gently sprinkles water on a plant that sits in front of his dead son Shankar’s portrait. Only it’s neither tulsi, nor any other variety of basil. It’s a random bonsai.
This is the kind of idiocy that Sarkar 3 is made up of.
While the film’s skeletal story is almost exactly what it was in the two preceding movies, it is made disastrously loopy by terrible dialogue and ridiculous ideas about things, characters and camerawork.
Sarkar 3’s plot is simple. As always, a man approaches Subhash Nagre with a plan — this time for the redevelopment of mill land. It’s a Rs 20,000 crore project which will render 15,000 people homeless.
As always, he says, na karoonga, na karne doonga while sipping tea from a saucer and the camera doing a trippy dance around the room.
This sets in motion the usual chain of events. A gang of businessmen and politicians keen on the project plot, while Subhash Nagre and his wily men listen to the whispers. Only this time there aren’t too many in his team — just one Gokul (Ronit Roy) and his gunga minion Raman (Parag Tyagi) whose deep scar across the eye appears and disappears at its own whim.
There’s also Cheeku, but his calibre and intent are suspect, and in any case he’s busy conducting a listless affair with the film’s Vague Female Character No. 1.
Annu (Yami Gautam) is the sort of stock babe essential to prop up Ram Gopal Varma’s directorial calamities. These babes wear Ray-Bans, most have shoulder-length, ruffled hair, luscious lips, tight, petite bodies, and no real point to their existence. Same to same with Annu. There’s some bollocks about her dad being killed by Subhash Nagre, but I watched both, Sarkar and Sarkar Raj, before venturing out for this one and I do not recall any such.
But consider this: While the man with the Rs 20,000 crore plan is sitting across from Subhash Nagre and talking, in between them stands an item of intrigue — a bulldog who is forever staring at the guests. It’s made of either brass or clay, but it’s definitely dead.
It lends neither meaning, mood nor mystery to the scene, and yet it holds this pride of place. That’s because it’s a glaring symptom of a genius in decay. The one we met in Department, Satya 2, and of course in that Aag…
This sort of idiocy, accompanied by a camera in uncontrollable convulsions and the soundtrack screaming Goh-Win-Dah, Goh-Win-Dah… is recurring in Sarkar 3. It distracts us from the dull proceedings on the screen and forces us to undertake a depressing inward journey about the man who made Siva, Rangeela, Satya, Kaun?, Company, Sarkar and now this…
But then arrives Govind Deshpande (Manoj Vajpayee), imitating and insulting Subhash Nagre while wearing the Kejriwal muffler, followed by Michael Vallya (Jackie Shroff), wafting chirpily on his own unbearable coolness, and uttering the most insane lines to a lady he calls Darling.
Darling is Vague Female Character No. 2. She’s also concocted wholly and solely out of Varma’s well-fed fetishes and fantasies. This one, though, is a special specimen. She is the queen of bimbettes, SuperBimbette, the best and most vacuous there is and can ever be.
Darling, you see, is not fond of items of clothing but is very fond of animals in a way that’s worrying. She is also fond of Ray-Bans and likes to arch her back in and around artificial water bodies so as to thrust her stuff as an offering to the box-office god. I was riveted in a way that is very worrying.
Thankfully, some random goonda, businessman or politician says for the millionth time that Sarkar ek soch hai, and soch ko marna important hai. Several missions to off Subhash Nagre are put into action by men and drones we know he’ll outsmart in his sleep.
This one gets killed by that one, but that other one gets blamed… And so on this goes till Subhash Nagre is told by Cheeku that his trusted man is playing for the other side, and Gokul tells him that Cheeku is a jhoota gaddar.
In all this confusion, Darling’s tattoo has switched sides. It’s moved from her left cheek to her right one, but Michael is still uttering bizarre one-liners that only nonchalant Jackie Shroff can pull off in his inimitable ishtyle.
Ram Gopal Varma had all the time in the world — nine long years — to take his homage to Godfather to a place where it could have been given an honourable burial.
He had the main characters, the plot, and the Brahmastra. Amitabh Bachchan is ready and ripe to play the role he’s been preparing for since 1975 (Deewar) — of a cornered, lonely godfather in decline. Varma just had to write a decent screenplay and keep a tighter leash on his obsessions and lunacy. Alas!
Though Varma managed to get two decent actors — Bajpayee and Roy — he gives them nothing to play with. Their and most other characters are treated like props, archetypes — a politician, a businessman, henchman... — in the world of Sarkar who must simply drop into their costumes, jump into their slots and start doing their bit when Varma screams action.
Amitabh Bachchan, though hammy, holds the film with a tight grip, even when he watches, dejectedly, Amit Sadh, Ronit Roy and others go on and on about this and that… It’s almost as if he’s regretting killing all those actors in the earlier Sarkars. But when he’s in the same frame as Bajpayee, the drama gets exciting. Sadly, it barely lasts five minutes.
For the rest we must simply be thankful for that one joke Jackie cracked, and fearful that Cheeku and Annu are still alive and may decide to get together with Subhash Nagre again.
Perhaps it’s time we and AB called it quits with Ram Gopal Varma, since he won’t.