Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

December 1, 2011

Masand’s Verdict: Sarkar Raj is punishingly slow

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rajeev @ 6:15 am

  Ram Gopal Varma’s Sarkar Raj is a gabfest. There’s really no other way to describe this film — it’s all talk and very little action. And excessive talk seldom makes for exciting viewing.

Intended no doubt to be an intense political drama, Sarkar Raj is sadly not a patch on Varma’s original film Sarkar, of which this one is nothing but a watered down sequel. The Nagres, when they were first introduced to us in the 2005 film, were an uber-powerful family whose patriarch Subhash Nagre (or Sarkar as we came to know him) was a mafioso with a righteous streak. Pilfered from the plot of Coppola’s Godfather, Varma’s previous film ended with Sarkar’s younger son Shankar following in the footsteps of his father. A US-educated lad who reluctantly embraces his destiny and joins in the family business so to speak.

It was a dramatic film, remarkably enacted by both Amitabh and Abhishek Bachchan, and one that left a lasting impression. Sarkar Raj doesn’t have either the dramatic tone of the first film, nor a premise that’s particularly engaging.

Despite his reservations, Subhash Nagre gives his beta a nod of approval when Shankar convinces him that a power plant project in rural Maharashtra will benefit the state and its people. Teaming up with an NRI corporate head, Shankar takes to the villages to gather support from the masses. Unfortunately for the Nagres, things don’t go quite as smoothly as they’d hoped. Too many parties have too many interests and as a result, this project becomes something of a political minefield.

To be entirely fair, Sarkar Raj is not a bad film, it’s just not good. There’s little in the plot that’s original or imaginative, and it doesn’t help that Varma lazily shoots his sequel exactly the same way as he did the first film, complete with lighting tricks and booming theme music. The problem here is Varma’s characters. Amitabh Bachchan plays Sarkar as a sort of preachy grandfather who’s dripping words of wisdom everytime he thinks Shankar may be taking a wrong step. You might remember, much of the reason why Sarkar appealed to us so much in the first film was because he was a man of a few words. A man whose silences said so much. In this film, you long for him to be silent — if only for a few moments. Abhishek Bachchan, meanwhile, as Shankar Nagre, bears a pained expression throughout the film and does little else. As the corporate head who proposes the power plant to Shankar, Aishwarya Rai is restrained and stays within character for the most part.

The biggest blow comes in the form of the film’s drudging pace. It’s only two hours and a few minutes in running time, but it felt like the longest two hours of my life. A film so punishingly slow I think I felt my nails grow sitting in that seat.

So that’s two out of five and at best an average rating for Ram Gopal Varma’s Sarkar Raj, it’s a disappointing follow up to a very good film. Now we can only hope Part Three will be better. Because all evidence indicates that Sarkar will return.

Rating: 2 / 5 (Average)

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