Barring a few glitches, Ram Gopal Varma pretty much gets it right in his latest film Sarkar Raj .
After being pummeled by one and all for his disastrous and tortuous Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag , the director redeems himself with a fairly engrossing tale of political intrigue, deception and betrayal in ‘Sarkar Raj’.
Two things that strike you the most in the film are the performances by the cast and Varma’s unique direction. One thing that stands out like a sore thumb is the blaring background score. Varma, who shows remarkable ingenuity in shot-composition, falters big time in stressing too much on background music. Had the filmmaker shown some subtlety here, ‘Sarkar Raj’ could have been a celluloid masterpiece.
With its overwhelming visuals ‘Sarkar Raj’ transports you into a dark, grim world of the Nagare family where light and shade flit across the faces of the characters like thoughts in their mind, and where the dimly-lit interiors of the Nagare household are slashed by beams of light from windows and doors. In this setting, a dirty game of politics is played, a game in which blood is spilled and the main players are themselves controlled like marionettes by someone higher above. If you thought politics was all about semantics, ‘Sarkar Raj’ might prove you wrong.
The movie draws the fault line of political minefield at the very outset, where a conspiracy to assassinate Shankar ( Abhishek Bachchan ) " the scion of Sarkar clan " is exposed and the would-be assassin conveniently bumped off. Their plan failed, the conspirators decide that if they cannot hunt their prey in his den, they would lure him out into a chakravyuh. And that’s what the whole plot of the film is " a chakravyuh that entangles the entire Sarkar household.
Shankar of ‘Sarkar Raj’ is different from the reluctant son in Sarkar who took over his powerful father’s legacy. Shankar in ‘Sarkar Raj’ knows his mind, knows the nitty-gritty of politics, knows the manipulations of the power game, and he doesn’t mind disagreeing with his experienced father or even speaking on his behalf. Shankar truly personifies a son taking over his father’s political empire.
The story is set into motion with the coming of Anita Rajan ( Aishwarya Rai ), a CEO of a power company planning to set up a power plant in the heart of Maharashtra. When the proposal is first brought before Sarkar ( Amitabh Bachchan ), he rejects it outright because it would mean displacement of thousands of people from villages.
But Shankar is convinced that the project will bring benefits to the people. And being a son who has learnt to speak his mind, he convinces Sarkar and begins organizing rallies to villages to convince the villagers of the same.
The opposition comes in the form of a firebrand social activist Sanjay Somji (Rajesh Shringarpure) who " not so coincidentally " happens to be the doted grandson of none other than Sarkar’s mentor, Rao saab (Dilip Prabhawalkar).
Others wishing the doom of Sarkar clan include a middleman (Govind Namdev), the deputy CM (Sayaji Shinde) and a Gujarati businessman.
Determined to make the project a reality, Shankar steps into the political minefield and thereby puts the entire Sarkar family in the line of fire.
The first half of ‘Sarkar Raj’ essentially belongs to Abhishek Bachchan, who delivers a restrained and intense performance, looking glum for the most part. Aishwarya Rai stays on the sidelines throughout the film and gets a few challenging scenes. And yes, there is no mushy romance between the two except for a tender moment that ends abruptly.
Amitabh Bachchan, the true boss of the film, steps out from the shadows in the second half when he literally rolls up his sleeves and keeps you riveted to the screen with his remarkably expressive performance.
The most captivating is the chemistry between Mr. Bachchan and Abhishek. There is a palpable distance between them and yet there are moments when their stern façade falls apart and what remains is the innocent, tender love between a father and a son.
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