Department - Review

wogma rating: Watch if you have nothing better to do (?)
quick review:

The perennial "right vs. wrong" debate is put up against a new-sounding "Smartness vs 'an A-Rated word'". This complex debate soon becomes incomprehensible as characters become more and more ambiguous. Vague characters can be interesting but the experimentation with the camera is too distracting for anything else to be processed satisfactorily.



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Wogma Review

You see a politician frustrated with the system so corrupt that it doesn't allow justice the way it should be. You see him find a solution. You see him set up a department to blatantly kill everyone they know to be guilty, without any heed to legality. You see the potential this story has to handle something so controversial. You hold off on a smirk when you see that this department will be called...."Department"! Except that you see all of this in the weirdest angles and camera positions imaginable. You want to call it imaginative and ambivalently end up wishing that no one had imagined it at all. Because the histrionics of the camera rob you of anything half-decent that the film potentially had.

It hurts to discredit someone for trying to be creative. But the fact remains that, that spurt of ingenuity didn't work one bit. And believe me, experience has taught me to brace myself, as I would in a roller coaster ride, when entering a RGV film - even the ones produced by him, let alone directed by the man himself. I'd have felt less annoyed if the non-standard camera work had a directorial purpose in terms of characters or situations that it's used for. But nothing of that sort happens. The coolness fact ends with, "I wonder where the camera is as this striker is moving about the carrom board or as this tea-pan is being taken to the cup for the tea to be strained." If there was something symbolic that I missed, it was not for want of trying.

Department is full of quirky characters and performances. And some of the characters are interesting too, mainly because they do carry a few shades of gray despite being in the business of killing people. But none of the grayness is taken further, you are just tempted into the den with it and left there in the darkness of a regular underworld story. The now boring nexus of business and crime called politics, crime and business of politics, and the politics and business in crime - now that's a RGV tweet in the making! That's what some of the dialogue in the film sounds like too - right out of the director's twitter timeline.

Yet, there are moments, especially with Amitabh Bachchan on screen where you feel like respite is coming your way. His character's (Sarjerao) enigma is charming right through the end. So much so that if that is what it is going to be about, I don't mind a Department 2,even if I'm bound to be disappointed. Sarjerao's quirkiness makes you laugh out loud. I actually waited with bated breath when it felt like he was going to advocate drinking alcohol, much in the 'daaru peene se liver kharaab...' vein. But alas, nothing of that epic sort happens, or even mini epics. Instead, you are left wondering what was the point of that scene.

And many, many more such scenes come and go that are disconnected with the film by itself. The rest is a criss-cross of crossers, double-crossers. Again the regular sort, nothing that you haven't seen earlier in a gangwar film.

There is one issue I've always had with use of child actors in violent films. Department has many violent chase sequences where children shown in passing. Not a child is bothered by the shooting going on, they continue to play on ball. Even if the intent is to show how we are desensitizing our children to violence, I can't help but shudder every time I see an actual child in a scene like that - made to act indifferent to the violence around him/her.

Irrespective of that, Department had the chance to make us see both sides of any solution that we choose for our degenerating systems. But, the makers chose to focus on camera gimmickry rather than build on the premise it chose. The stuff that you see in any underworld film are done to death, the new stuff makes you wish they hadn't tried and the things in between, they didn't explore to its fullest.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Loads and loads. And brutal and gory too.
  • Language: Lots of profanity.
  • Nudity & Sexual content: A couple of suggestive scenes between a couple and loads of skin shows in songs.
  • Concept: The manipulation of the blurry line between right and wrong.
  • General Look and Feel: DVD-print-ish with lots of weird camera angles.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 2
  • Story: 2
  • Lead Actors: 2.5
  • Character Artists: 2.5
  • Dialogues: 2
  • Screenplay: 1
  • Music Director: 1
  • Lyrics: 1.5

Department - Movie Details

Department - Trailer

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Comments (1)

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@B H Harsh - ha ha ha... amazing. don't mean to put ourselves down but we aren't really unique :) Thanks!

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