Friday, July 29, 2005


[SPOILER ALERT] [july 23, 2005]

sarkar RGV
JR's eloquent take on Sarkar makes it easier for me to jot down my thoughts.

* Necessary disclaimer: If the nicely done opening sequence has anyone else going "oy! he's copying The Godfather", do yourself and that person a favour by offering them a piece of your mind ("Where were you during the opening acknowledgement?") and a tight whack to destroy all their dental work

* If any doubts linger about Kay Kay Menon as an actor, this film should put them to rest. Regardless of the Big B's presence (RGV making wonderful understated use of Amitabh Bachchan the icon and star, and thus offering the Big B what is easily his best most understated performance -- perhaps closer to his Saudagar days), despite the competent effort from Little B, despite the short yet perfectly-fitting-the-jigsaw puzzle turns from Supriya Pathak (welcome back, ma'am) and Rukhsar (seen earlier in D), despite the show-stealing performance from Telugu film-familiar Kota Srinivasa Rao as selvaramaNii (kudos to the subtitlers -- the spellings suggest that this was done in India -- who decided to use "Silver Mani" towards the latter portion of the film, thus giving us subtitle-mongers some cheap laughs), despite the great turn from Jeeva (soon becoming an RGV staple) as pa.nDitajii (kutte! is now legend), it's KKM as Vishnu, the wayward hot-headed elder son who walks away with the acting honours.

* KKM's Vishnu is admittedly a composite of Sonny and Fredo Corleone (the former is obvious; the latter is obvious (from a key plot point) to all who have seen both this film and the second entry in the Godfather trilogy)

* Those worried about Anupam Kher's ephemerally ephemeral turn must remember Paresh Rawal as Amod Shukla in Satya

* The Bal Thackeray angle holds very little water (although the echoes of real life in art are reminiscent of similar echoes in both Company and D)

* Virendra Saxena does the Indian Bonasera and gets more to say than for his appearance in insert suitable title here (was it Satya or WBH2P2? I typed this out, and now all I have is this isolated fragment in memory ... some water tankers, Virendra as the head goon, some subtle maaraa-maarii, all in a long shot ... someone help!)

* The departures RGV makes from his inspiration are laudable. He leaves you with a sense of knowing (kinda, really) what will happen next, and yet manages to keep alive that expectation, which keeps your interest as the film goes by

* I share the Agneepath déjà vu with JR, although here the villains are less broad-stroked than in Mukul S Anand's towering epic

* Loved the scene where Sarkar meets Rashid (Zakir Hussain) for the first time. Rashid sips tea out of his cup, almost bursting with the calm confidence that this is a no-brainer, while Sarkar sips his tea out of the saucer (thus also reflecting his closeness to the underdog and his people). That gentle counterpoint cannot be a coincidence, can it?

* And speaking of epic, it's now time to come to the most disturbing element in the film. I didn't mind the earthy (note: can't call it sepia -- that's the patent-pending devil-child of Sanjay Gupta) tone of the film. I didn't mind the gentle dream-like approach in the flow of the film. The choice of having a background score on for most of the film seemed to fit in with what seems like a desire to be more operatic than subtle and harsh (call it "quiet spectacle"; perhaps because of RGV's love for the material and his admiration of the Big B). However, what is often troublesome is the volume of the background score. Despite the presence of a key motif, the score threatens to trounce the dialogue and the proceedings (and even manages to do so a couple of times -- a worst-case estimate). Perhaps JR has a point in hoping that Amar Mohile gets a break.

All things considered, this is a strong entry in the Godfather-influenced canon, and for my money's worth, I'd put it up there with movies like Nayagan [if only for artistic ambition, not for plot points and nit-picking] (aah, to see once-collaborators achieve similar goals at different points in their career) than with tripe like Dharmaatma or Zulm ki Hukumat (let's not even think about Aatank hi Aatank, shall we?). And yes, hats off to RGV and the Factory for the uncanny knack of either snagging great people for memorable roles of varying lengths or for imbuing pieces of wood with some acting smarts (if only for the duration of the flick).

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