Review - Sarkar Raj: not bad, not bad at all...

wogma rating: The keen should rent; else TV (?)
quick review:

A treat for Bachchan fans and an intense story for the non-believers. If you are mentally prepared for that noise the background music creates and the camera being held in the weirdest possible positions and angles, you can actually enjoy the drama despite all its flaws.

Reviews

27664 views

Click on the tabs below for wogma review, external reviews, user reviews, and twitter verdict

Wogma Review

Unfortunately, that also means its not all good either. Anyways, compliments first for making some brave scripting decisions, which is important for a power-of-politics based movie. Though it is common sense that the story should be the focal point of the movie, yet such movies are few and far between. So, they need to be applauded when they come along. But, alas this one too ultimately fails in taking the audience into the thick of the action. Various tactical twists in the story, especially towards the climax are just to be accepted because "Sarkar" says so.

A riveted Amitabh Bachchan fan might not even mind doing so, especially because the fan is presented with such an intense performance in the long monologues. There's nothing specifically wrong with the lines, they are crisp, and are occasionally garnished with a tangy sense of humor. But, is it fair to make the movie about one actor when the jockeying for power by various characters is so interesting? Without taking away anything from the legendary actor's entire range of expressions, I really would have liked to see the other characters' motivations instead of just a verdict passed by the central character.

Also, this central character is not really consistent. His motivations and the way he gets influenced/convinced by his dominant son are rather unconvincing. And if you look at Sarkar's character change over the two movies it is really unbelievable. A man who was so sensitive to a stranger's daughter's rape a movie ago is so practical about death and betrayal. He suffers physical trauma but is willing to treat the death as collateral damage?!

Likewise, Shankar, Sarkar's arrogant, disrespectful son (Abhishek Bachchan), doesn't feel fully developed. His quiet demeanor goes with the sudden bursts of anger. But, somehow the father-son relationship seems very forced and contrived. The emotional bond is fuzzy and hence has to be taken only on face value. Due to this one-dimensional portrayal Abhishek is required to hold just this one expression on his face throughout, with minimal variation.

Anita (Aishwarya Rai) too has a very skimpily etched out character. Her interactions with Shankar seem extremely superfluous. I think both Aishwarya and the way her part is written are to blame for it. However, it is amazing how deglamorized she looks.

And I am not sure where the thin line between identifying characteristics of side characters and making them look like caricatures dissolves. The supporting cast doesn’t do much in terms of evoking fear or hatred.

So, my resolution to ignore or rather to make peace with the expected, overactive camerawork and ear-splitting, background score worked. Once I decided not to give these things the satisfaction of a reaction, the going got a little easier on the delicate grayness in the head. An occasional cringe was unavoidable. I'm human after all.

The thing is, the director is in love with the music and camera decisions and is in fact very proud of them. Now, once you know that, the only thing you can do is register your protest - "me no likes this deafening-is-such-a-mild-word music and sway-here-there-and-everywhere camera movements."

I must admit, though, that I didn't mind the relatively limited use of close-ups too much this time around. Part of the credit would go to the performances and a lot of it to the way the faces were lit. The natural source of light is consistently kept in mind and I loved the fact that the colors used were in tune with the general serious and intense tone of the movie.

So, very low expectations set by previous experiences might have contributed towards me liking this one. But, yet there are huge chunks of the movie, especially towards the end, where I would have liked more people acting out the story instead of just one person sitting me down and reading it to me. Oh well, worse have been made and yet it's not an entirely dissatisfying experience.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: There are few scenes of people dying of gunshots or stabbing. Nothing very visually displeasing.
  • Sexual content: Nil
  • Concept: The movie is entirely based on politics and business. In general I think kids will get bored, if they are not of an age to follow the story.
  • General Look and Feel: Sarkar Raj is a rather dark movie. It is almost all shot in dim light with a brownish tinge to give it the grim and intense look. There is not much in terms of bright colors and peppy music.

Sarkar Raj - Movie Details

Sarkar Raj - Trailer

Comments (17)

Click here for new comment

Moksh Juneja:

even i am looking forward to the movie.. because the Sarkar was one the best performances by Abhishek Bachchan. KK Menon was totally brilliant in the movie and i think his brief was to be like Sunny, the character in Godfather. I thing that i would miss is KK Menon in Sarkar Raaj!!

meetu:

@Shashi thanks for the link. and thanks for the feedback that you'd like preview of comments. I'll get that on as soon as i can.

@Moksh infact in RGV's blog, he mentions that he was not satisfied with the way Sunny was portrayed in the movie in comparison with Sunny's character in the book. So, he tried making Vishnu's character as close to the book Sunny. I haven't read the book, so don't know. But, interesting take, I thought.

Ravinder Singh:

Well, Sarkar Raj has opened to very good reviews by the critics. I am sure you are going to love this sequel of Sarkar!

noni:

heyy...how u digest all those bolliwood Cliché movies...
but like ur other blog

Sarkar Raj - Review » without giving the mov:

[...] Rotten Tomatoes Recent CommentsSarkar Raj [...]

Ishita:

this review SUCKS bigtime. throw the writer out.

Raj:

For some reason, the trailers of the film failed to interest me so I gave it a miss. I watched Aamir instead and I hope you plan to review it.

meetu:

@omkar wagh, hey! Thanks for stopping by and taking the trouble of jotting your thoughts down. But please, please refrain from giving away vital plot points. It is truly against the spirit of this site.

@XCCCX and all others who read the comment and the spoiler, I sincerely apologize. I was away and thus, couldn't check the comments on time.

@Raj, I just watched Aamir, review will be up soon.

meetu:

Yeah, it wasn't bad after all Ravinder!

noni, I really don't know...I just love watching movies, I guess...

Thanks for stopping by guys!!

Sudhir Nair:

A strictly ok and a boring film, which might seem to be great after seeing Aag, but is definitely made as an Ultimate Cure for Insomniacs. The loo-oong speeches made by AB in the climax (??) made my school principal's speeches look like a work of art.

Good in parts, with a really good twist towards the end, but it's a perfect example of another good story botched by RGV.

Am waiting for ur take on Aamir :-)

jitaditya:

well...you have given 2.5 out of 5 for the story. If this is the standard then story doesn't exist in Bollywood!
in fact it was one of the most well told stories in Hindi cinema.
And the twists have to be accepted because there is no way of "verifying" the twists of a fictional plot. That's part of a story and there is no point of questioning that.

meetu:

@all, lovely mixed reactions, thank you for stopping by and dropping in your comments.


@Mayur, wow!! You do read my reviews carefully. I follow both RGV's and AB's blogs regularly and both have the same post by RGV in which they have referred to my review, but unfortunately the URL is wrong :( I am surprised you caught that it was from wogma. I have requested them to change the URL, lets see...maybe they/their team doesn't have the time to attend to it.


Well, yeah, RGV is not very happy, but 2/5 of the comments, he misunderstood. The rest also I have tried to give my point of view in comments on both sites.


of course jitaditya, a fictional story can have verifiable twists built within the premises of the story itself. And many good writers leave hints for the readers/viewers to pick up the trail, if they are alert enough. Its called foreshadowing. The things that make the reader/viewer go, "oh, this is how it is in the end, that is why they showed that half an hour/50 pages into the movie/book.

@Shashi - To each his own...you, the people who love Kaho na pyar hai and me - there is enough room for us all and our opinions.

sharad:

sarkar raj is watchable again and again,it is a memorable movie.no one can act like amitabh ,he is the king of acting in world.only those people criticise sarkar raj because they are paid money to criticise the movie.there is no single point in the movie to give abad review.all criticism for the movie must be rejected by the audience.

sharad:

i think the website who are giving bad reviews,they should apologige to people of country.it is very sad to read these reviews,why a memarable movie like SARKAR RAJ is having enemies.because persons,giving bad reviews ,are only and only paid money todo this

Sarkar Raj:

[...] "...A treat for Bachchan fans and an intense story for the non-believers" [...]

Movie buff:

I just watched the movie yesterday on DVD. I thought it was quite boring initially, but loved the second part of the movie. The plot was really good and I guess it truly reflects how politics is really played out.

RGV's direction was quite good. I really liked the way he's shot it. It's more of a Director's movie than an actor's.

TimELiebe:

"Pezzonovante dreams, Bappa...."

Wow - it's THE GODFATHER, starring The Bachchans! Father Amitabh is Wily Old Don Vito Seemingly Retired But Still On Top Of Things, Son Abhishek is the Hotheaded But Smart Cross Between Sonny and Michael - and Daughter-in-Law Aishwarya turns into de facto Family Member Tom Hayden. Though supposedly set in the world of Indian politics, SARKAR RAJ desperately tries to remind you of Coppola's classic films which treated organized crime as family values.

From the first five minutes, where we see Abhishek channeling his Inner Early Pacino while informing a bunch of grim-faced men in a heavily-sepiatone'd room that if it Wasn't The Day Of His Father's Birthday he would have killed them, this film becomes an unintentionally comedic version of THE GODFATHER movies. All the major story and character beats are hit, many of which I won't mention for fear of spoilering - but if you've seen GODFATHER and GODFATHER II, see if you don't start mockingly humming the movies' theme (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkTQdEZbjQA ) every time a very similar scene or reminiscent character pops up.

Even the filmmaking has a GODFATHER-on-the-cheap look to it - from the overuse of sepia and blue filters meant to evoke cinematographer Gordon Willis's justly-famous visual style, to the ubiquitous Steadicam which attempts, with a hopeful (and repeated) tug on your sleeve, to remind you of Coppola's hypnotically beautiful (in the first two films, at least) direction. Unfortunately for me at least, I wasn't reminded so much of One Of The World's Greatest Directors In His Prime as I was of Mel Brooks's lampoon of attention-getting camerawork in his Hitchcock parody HIGH ANXIETY! (There's one scene in particular between Bachchan Senior and Junior, shot looking up through a glass coffee table, that is a repeat of a famous comedy bit Brooks's movie.)

All of this might have still been enjoyable if the characterizations had been interesting or well-shaded - but they're not:

- Amitabh, as the sharp-minded old veteran who's never caught by surprise until the plot requires it, hits the same notes he's hit so many times he could play this role in his sleep by now;
- Abhishek's supposedly smart-but-idealistic son mostly comes off as a sullen action figure (speaking of "playing it in your sleep"!);
- Aishwarya's supposedly NRI liberated woman is so clearly set up as "Future Wife and Daughter-in-Law" that you wonder why the movie bothered to give Abhishek a wife in the first place (oh, right - so they could hang a CANNON FODDER sign around her!);
- you can see most of the movie's villains coming from the other side of the planet, and those you can't seem to have been arbitrarily selected for "shock value";
- and everybody else in the movie only seems to exist in order to stand by the Bachchans and die, betray the Bachchans and die, or be in the background behind the Bachchans and die.

SARKAR RAJ looks like a some film student's idea of an Indian version of an American classic, that he somehow convinced a highly overqualified cast to star in. It all feels very second-hand - a second-hand story with second-hand direction gets deservedly second-hand performances by actors I've seen do much better.

Leave a new comment