An Jo on Sarkar 3

Spoilers ahead…
That Ramu is in love with Amitabh’s angry young man portrayals is hardly debatable. What is debatable, however, is whether this love with a man’s cinematic history is able to take the artist-muse-dynamic a notch higher; at least with Ramu.

In SARKAAR 3, Ramu more than ever is in awe of Amitabh’s unparalleled command of the emotion of anger and its tributaries and makes no bones about it. Scene after scene is devoted to Amitabh’s character Subhash Nagre’s close-ups and dialogues. They are, of course, fascinating to watch when one sees Amitabh’s amazing ability to still retain consistency over the 3 Sarkar films in terms of physicality and facial expressions; and, more importantly, flood the audience’s mind with nostalgia of youth when his entire being conveyed pulsating anger whether he killed Madan Puri in ‘Deewar’ or spoke to Iftekhar or even slammed Sanjeev Kumar’s hypocrisy in ‘Trishul.’ [He shakes his jaw very lightly in SARKAAR 3; almost as though it is an involuntary twitch when he is faced with disturbing news or sees a dear one’s dead body: More than anybody, Amitabh knows that his face is now aged and obviously, getting unattractive by the day, and quite smartly, he is replacing it with a slight twitch of his jaw rather than the grinding of teeth which was highly attractive to the audience and hall-marked an external physicality of his inner angst in the ‘70s and ‘80s.] Ramu makes Amitabh just sit, stare at the camera because he knows that this is the only actor in India who can make love to the camera doing nothing but having that special quality of conveying everything. Ordinary, mundane sequences of Sarkaar stirring a tea cup or reading a news-paper are taken to greater heights by Amitabh Bachchan the actor, and Ramu lusts after these moving yet still images. It’s quite a treat for any Amitabh Bachchan fan. Unfortunately, movie-making is a medium that also calls for other skills in place, and Ramu falters somewhat in his ability to surprise the audience by having a taut screen-play at his disposal.

At the cost of Subhash Nagre’s characterization and weightage, he comes up with characters really unattractive – and I mean at the movie’s story level – and uni-dimensional. There’s Jackie Shroff’s builder-character mysteriously named ‘Sir’ operating from Dubai; there’s Rohini Hattangady’s character that plays the opposite of Kasturba Gandhi by sipping whisky and making a ‘zero’ sign or as they say in Hindi, a ‘jhakaas’ sign praising her son, Manoj Bajapai’s Govind Deshpande’s outstanding philosophy of power as compared to sand dragging out from beneath your feet thanks to a wave in retreat. While the ‘Sir’ character adds up as the main antagonist, Rohini Hattangady’s character is really an exercise in profound stupidity which adds nothing, and I mean nothing at all, to the over-all arc of the story. The problem with this movie is the predictability – in terms of not who has conspired what; Ramu actually does a decent job of maintaining the shock value – it is that one already expected the shock value based on the 2nd installment, SARKAAR RAJ. At the back of your mind, you know that someone has plotted something that would be revealed to you at the end; and that’s what weakens the film. Yummy Gautam’s character is just thrown in to show-case that a stunningly beautiful woman could have a sinister agenda and, well, could have a sinister ‘brewing’ mind. [There’s a scene which Varma cleverly shoots through a coffee mug handle. Is that a metaphor, for something ‘sinister’ brewing through her mind?].

Talking of camera angles, Ramu thankfully doesn’t resort to the nauseating camera-work he played child-like with in movies like DEPARTMENT. He, in fact with his camera-man does a very good job here! When he shoots Jackie Shroff’s girl-friend with a lascivious angle, it’s not Ramu but Jackie’s character talking through the camera, because he makes it pretty clear that he is interested in the woman because she has all good ‘things’ in her except a heart. ‘Heart’ is something his wife had and he’s just not interested in that! In order to contrast the philosophies of Sarkaar with the ambassadors of ‘calm’ and peace like Gandhi and Buddha, he captures Sarkaar sitting calmly in an almost Buddha-like pose, but conveying the exact opposite of Buddha or Gandhi’s philosophies! The camera pans to the Buddha first and then to Nagre; same exterior calmness, but polar-opposite brain-waves.

The most disappointing aspect of SARKKAR 3 is Amit Sadh’s Shivaji Nagre. He literally betrays the fact that he is a ‘puppy’ in this franchise metaphorically and character-wise cinematically by truly being a wannabe. He wafts onto the screen with an air of confidence and arrogance that proclaims he is the rightful heir to the Sarkaar legacy but his dialogue delivery and his understanding of ‘palace politics; as Subhash Nagre calls it, is so much in contrast that it sends out a jarring message to the audience. Throughout, he comes across as a cub talking in the language of a tiger and exposing the idiocy of the endeavor. Intentional? Only Ramu knows. And this is where one misses the ‘sure-footedness’ of Abhishek Bachchan. The man was so earthly and believable in such roles with his not-choclatey-but-spicy roles with darker shades that one’s forced to draw comparisons. It’s pretty painful to watch Amit Sadh here; and one feels that that this guy is better-off in KAI PO CHE type of faux-realistic films than in a SARKAAR franchise.

Talking of flashes of brilliance when it comes to Ramu, there’s a finely etched scene when Sarkaar’s rival Bajpai’s Govind Deshpande and Sarkaar are called to talk on ‘Gandhian’ principles. [Fantastic sub-version by Ramu there, calling into a scene two folks who have a commonality that they share hardly any values with Gandhi; but uncommon in the sense that one is actually following the inherent principles of Gandhism when doing things according to one’s conscience, though it might use violence; and the other, who uses Gandhi for only political purposes!] Or consider the scene where Sarkaar proclaims that he has killed a person personally after 35 years – the meaning of which one knows only during the climax.

The most brilliant sequence of the film is the assassination attempt on Subhash Nagre during Ganapati Visarjan: Ramu brilliantly utilizes the slow-motion technique to convey, what it means to be ‘Sarkaar’: It means an embodiment of loyalty and greatness. His bodyguards and his grand-son, without an iota of hesitancy, wrap themselves around him and form a human shield till they place him safely in a SUV [ and even after that, you have guards standing astride the door-steps of the car!] . When one contrasts this with the Manoj Bajpayee’s assassination attempt, it is quite fantastic when one ties the knots! Manoj’s character is literally like a rat, one trying to escape ‘death’. But Bachchan’s Sarkaar has a protective shield that tries to stop bullets! One that’s willing to take bullets! It’s like the ‘Samudhra Manthan’ of Dashavatar! It’s almost like the Lord in their various avatars were trying to protect their ‘Deva’ from mortality. Bajpayee’s character, on the other hand, meets the fate of a mouse that is just waiting to be clipped onto a mouse-trap! And that’s what exactly happens to him. And this is quite finely conveyed by Ramu in a very nonchalant scene where Jackie reveals to his business partner that it isn’t easy to replace Sarkaar with his grand-child since the love and respect that Sarkaar has garnered spans over 40 hard-played years! In one fell swoop, Ramu shocks the audience with a bunch of metaphors! So, one cannot just replace Uddhav Thackeray or Raj Thackeray in place of Bal Thackeray; just as one cannot replace Abhishek Bachchan in place of Amitabh Bachchan? A politician can be replaced; but NOT a leader. It’s quite clear that Ramu is yelling upon the historicity of Amitabh’s unparalleled conquest of Hindi cinema over the past 40 years. The time-lines that Ramu uses are a mirror-equivalent to Bachchan’s reign on the Hindi cinema.

One of the most delicious sub-versions Ramu offers is when Manoj Bajpayee’s Deshpande throws a barb at Sarkaar that his only motive is ‘RAAM RAAM JAPNA PARAYYA MAAL APNA’ which is what Amitabh’s Namak Halaal character accused Ranjith of in ‘KE PAGH GHUNGAROO’ in NAMAK HALAAL! Amidst flashes of such brilliance, Ramu displays his descent into mediocrity in scenes like the assassination attempt on Shivaji Nagre. In the midst of bullets flying haywire, his girl-friend’s only intelligent question is.” Who do you think is behind this?” Really, this is the time to decipher that? Or Ramu’s more-than-required beating about the Sarkaar theme of,’ I will do what I deem is right.’ Beyond a point, it gets on one’s nerves.

The good news after VEERAPPAN and SARKAAR 3 is that Ramu hasn’t lost it completely and hasn’t yet dissolved himself into cultural irrelevancy; but the bad news is also that he still needs to put in more work to regain that peak of sledge-hammer impact of a Govind Namdeo blasting Bajpayee’s Mhatre head point-blank or even SARKAAR’s iconic dialogue of ‘ SUN, TUJHE BHI KARNE NAHIN DOONGA..’

6 Responses to “An Jo on Sarkar 3”

  1. sanjana Says:

    Very honest review and happy to see you after a long time.


  2. I will maintain that Bachhans needs to stay away from RGV. He has done nothing except bring in a paycheck.

    The critics and paying public both have equally shown a clear verdict over and over.


    • Bachchan selected some bad films even when he was at his peak. I think he just wants to work and be active rather than be selective.


      • Had any other actor done such bad films, he would have been thrashed left, right and centre. But for Bachchan there are ” 107 KHOON MAUF” over here.


        • Have you watched S3 at all? Maybe you could first watch it, pirated or whatever, and then give a call with regard to its quality?
          Since we have been following RGVs lapse, this might give you a pleasant shock in the sense that RGV hasn’t as yet lapsed into dementia…

          And it’s quite rich to expect that a 74 year old actor has the luxury to reject films! Especially considering the fact that he’s the one who pioneered the way for actors aged 60+ to be called ‘heroes’ and not ‘father-in-laws;….


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