Saturday, July 02, 2005

Sarkar & Yakeen 

Ram Gopal Varma pays tribute to The Godfather – officially this time—and, while he is at it, also expresses his admiration for Balasaheb Thackeray.

However, Varma’s attitude towards the part real-part fictional character he (and writer Manish Gupta) has created in Sarkar, is like a child’s fascination for Superman. There can be no room for ambiguity or questioning in this kind of fan-idol relationship—Varma believes that an extra-constitutional power or parallel government is valid when the legitimate system breaks down. It does not occur to him to examine the wider, long-term repercussion of such an arrangement.

Suresh Nagre (Amitabh Bachchan) is “Sarkar”—the man who dispenses instant justice, makes and breaks governments, keeps a coalition of thugs under control. How he acquired his power and what is the source of his wealth, is not clear.When the girlfriend of his US returned son Shankar (Abhishek Bachchan) asks him if his father is a “gunda”, Shankar explains, without a trace of irony that his father works for the good of the people. What people? What good? Forget answering these questions, Varma does not even bring them up—as if the idea of anyone actually doubting Sarkar’s iconic status of challenging his methods is sacrilegious.

Varma seeks to bring the audience to his side by starting the film with a scene (from The Godfather) in which a distraught father begs for justice for his daughter who was raped by a rich brat. Nagre’s men go and break the man’s bones. Of course the guy was guilty and from the point of view of the powerless underdogs in the audience, he deserved to be battered to death. Is it all right for self-appointed vigilantes to go around killing criminals? Who cares? Certainly not Varma, who cynically cashes in on society’s scepticism about the System—and in the post Marine Drive rape mass hysteria, how can you prevent the 'janta' from applauding anyone who has appropriated the power to mete out instant punishment.

In this seemingly idyllic world of Sarkar – the women hover around endlessly serving food, a kid blithely cycles around all the time—there are two problems. The older Nagre son Vishnu (Kay Kay Menon) is starting to rebel, and a deadpan rival Rashid (Zakir Hussain) triggers a mutiny because Nagre won’t permit him to do his nefarious ‘dhanda’, whatever that might be.A sadhu comes up with the bright idea of discrediting Nagre before destroying him, and Rashid’s ragtag bunch of cohorts kill an opponent (Anupam Kher), pin the blame on Nagre, organise his arrest and then try to kill him.

While all this is going on, Sarkar is gradually receding into the background, while Shankar goes about crushing the enemy (including his brother) and acquiring power.Apart from the usual smooth technical support that Varma always gets from his crew, the film is not even interesting viewing. The complexity of the Corleone character and his placement in a particular social-cultural-political milieu, was what made The Godfather a classic. Francis Ford Coppola did not try to whitewash or deify the Don, nor did he justify his actions—while the soundtrack of Sarkar goes into Govinda Govinda chants to enhance the superpower of Nagre and heir.

Varma’s much-too-simplistic film is riddled with holes, and just seems like an extension – both in style and content—to the gangster movies he has been making so far, with his usual coterie of sinister-looking actors. Amitabh Bachchan makes up with his personal charisma what is lacking in characterization. Both Kay Kay Menon and Abhishek Bachchan breathe fire into the parts. But in the end, Sarkar is neither entertaining nor provocative.


Girish Dhamija wrote dialogue for many Vikram Bhatt films, and using the same lift-and-shoot policy of his director, made a shabby potboiler from Wolfgang Petersen’s Shattered. Yakeen (written by Vikram Bhatt) takes the characters and convoluted plot from Shattered, but Dhamija churns out a very mediocre film, which could perhaps have worked as one of those TV thriller episodes.

The original story is highly implausible to begin with, all the more reason why it needed great performances and some stylistic flair to pull off. Yakeen just plods through its mandatory two-and-a-half hour running time, with a get-it-over-with sense of resignation.An accident leaves Nikhil (Arjun Rampal) with a battered face and lost memory, while his wife Simar (Priyanka Chopra) escapes with minor injuries. Nikhil needs extensive surgery to repair his face, but his amnesia means he has to reconstruct his life all over again. He discovers from a friend (Kim Sharma) that his marriage was in trouble before the accident, and the more he probes, with the help of a detective (Saurabh Shukla), the more unpleasant things he discovers.

The twists and turns do take the viewer by surprise, though after a long chase sequence, it is easy to guess what must have happened, and then it’s just a question of getting the hero to see the truth.Arjun Rampal looks suitably baffled, Priyanka Chopra is passable, though she really must work on her breathless rapidfire dialogue delivery that grates after a while. Yakeen can also be given the booby prize for the dreariest music heard this year!


Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

eXTReMe Tracker