As a director, Ram Gopal Verma has been curiously schizophrenic. The maker of such acclaimed movies as Satya, Rangeela and Company tends to go off the rails whenever he goes on an experimental path or panders to his latest obsession (Antara Mali, Nisha Kothari). It can be hard to believe that the same guy who produced and directed Shiva could have come up with a clunker like Daud.
Luckily, Sarkar Raj falls in the former category. Anchored by the “inspiration” of the Godfather movies and exploring the familiar territory of Mumbai’s underbelly, the movie rings authentic and is a taut, compelling piece of work.
In Sarkar, we had the younger son Shankar( Abhishek Bachchan) come home to take over the reins of Mumbai’s criminal kingdom from his father( Amitabh), much like Michael Corleone. In the sequel, we see him further consolidating his position as he attempts to work out a mega power plant deal that has disturbing political implications.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan enters as the new female interest. She is the CEO of the proposed plant which may adversely impact the lives of several villages in the heart of rural Maharashtra. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but it does veer away sharply from the Godfather storyline in the second half with some unexpected twists and turns.
Sarkar Raj, despite the unfortunate name, is a pretty absorbing movie. The acting is top notch, and the cinematography conveys the sense of dread throughout, with the trademark RGV camera angling every which way but straight. The background score is excellent and the few songs are achingly good.
Amitabh, of course, is at the top of his game, though Junior B has little to do but glower his way through the movie. Ash is surprisingly competent; maybe some of the powerhouse Bachchan acting talent has rubbed off on her.
For fans of the first movie, this is a worthy sequel. If blood and guts is not your thing, give this one a miss. But if you can stomach the cruelty of the parallel universe that inhabits the glittering Mumbai megalopolis, check out the movie.
Sarkar Raj is currently showing at Naz 8 cinema in Fremont.
*ring – Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5.