Saturday, May 19, 2012


Kill Kill Bang Bang

Many years ago, films like Ardh Satya and Satya already exposed the nexus between politicians, cops and the underworld and set their realistic films in the squalid parts of Mumbai.

Ram Gopal Varma’s Satya went on to acquire cult status, and now the director keeps remaking the film from different points of view and in different styles.  But the basic plot remains the same—mafia runs amok, cops start killing them in ‘encounters’, politicians play dirty power games.

In his latest, Department, the 'innocent' is a cop Shiv Narayan (Rana Daggubati), who is so zealous at his job that he ends up suspended. To deal with the rampaging underworld, an undercover department is formed under the wing of rogue cop Mahadeo (Sanjay Dutt).  Nod to the classic The Untouchables,  Mahadeo and his team of hand-picked men get a free hand to eliminate the underworld.

The players are Sawatya (Vijay Raaz), an unseen Mohammad Ghori, breakaways from the Sawatya gang, DK (Abhimanyu Singh) and his brainy girlfriend (Madhu Shalini) and a gangster-turned-politician, Sarjerao Gaikwad (Amitabh Bachchan.)  Amidst the underhand dealings, betrayals, double-crossing and corruption, Shiv has to find a way to survive with his idealism intact. Mahadeo and his wife (Laxmi Manchu) have long since stilled their conscience.

Since there is not much to say,  Varma tries to experiment with style—letting loose multiple camera. As a result, every scene is shot and edited in a dizzying manner, with odd angles and close-ups, of feet, shoes, crockery, crotches, mouths, hands; two particularly noticeable shots, one from below a teacup and one from the POV of a carom striker.  The casting and production design team must have been given a brief to find the ugliest extras and the most decrepit locations possible.

If Varma wanted to employ an uber-realistic style, then Bollywood style song-and-dance numbers, and exaggerated action sequences using wirework do not blend in well. (The Natalia Kaur ‘item’ dance must be the most vulgar in recent times.)

As it is, a few minutes into the film, the gun shots and piling up of bodies starts.  So excessive is the killing, that after a point, the viewer is numbed by the noise and the sight of heads smashed, brains spattered, blood spurting from bullet holes and terrified eyes of corpses.

The crew must  have enjoyed the experience of making the film, the actors certainly give it their best effort—particularly Rana Daggubati.  But what about the audience begging for mercy? The film ends with the threat of a sequel.  Varma is obstinate and foolhardy enough to do it.


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