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

November 8, 2013

Bad company

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 10:37 pm

November 08, 2013

Cast: Punit Singh Ratn, Anaika Soti, Mahesh Thakur

Director: Ram Gopal Varma

Cinema has the power to shock you, but Ram Gopal Varma takes that quite literally in Satya 2. In one particularly gruesome scene, a burkha-clad woman wielding an electric drill directs the weapon towards a rapist’s crotch, and blood splatters everywhere. This is Varma’s idea of the new underworld, where citizens play vigilantes, forming an anonymous ‘company’ that strikes fear in the hearts of the rich and the powerful. The mastermind behind this nameless crime enterprise is Satya (newcomer Punit Singh Ratn), a man who deliberately keeps his background a secret so he cannot be caught.

The film traces the journey of this bespectacled everyman who comes to Mumbai with a chilling plan to redefine the underworld. “My company will have no name, but the product it’ll deal in is fear,” he tells construction magnates who bankroll his daring plan to assassinate a top industrialist, a police commissioner, and a media baron all in one day. Satya recruits those who are disillusioned with the system, including a former encounter cop, but keeps a low profile so even his wife and his closest friends have no idea what he’s up to. One of these friends is a skimpily clad starlet named ‘Special’, who is so unremarkable that you wonder how she acquired that name.

To be fair, somewhere buried in this muddled film there is an interesting idea of why citizens are forced to stand up for themselves. Through sweeping top shots, we see a metropolis bursting at the seams and rotting with neglect. But the film goes downhill as Satya turns into a messiah, rectifying the system’s injustice and giving us mind-numbing speeches in an expressionless monotone. Leading man Puneet in fact is one of the chief reasons the film doesn’t work. He delivers a labored performance and appears to have the emotional range of a plank of plywood. As is a staple in Varma’s films, there is a motley crew of singularly unattractive characters, including a disfigured, bald henchman whose chief purpose is to stare straight into the camera.

Comparisons are odious, but when you title a film after your best work yet, who is to blame? Varma’s seminal 1998 film Satya redefined the underworld genre, and while Satya 2 may not be his worst film, it has no resemblance to that exciting, clutter-breaking gem.

Many, many times during this overlong film, we hear that the underworld company formed by the protagonist is just a thought, and not an actual entity that can be snuffed out by the cops. Much in the same vein, Satya 2 is not so much an engaging film as it is an interesting idea that Varma squanders away with a hackneyed script, and an ensemble of over-actors.

I’m going with one-and-a-half out of five for Ram Gopal Varma’s Satya 2. We’ve been waiting for a film that gives us a fresh take on crime in the city. Sadly, this is not that film.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)


  1. I thought it will score -ve points looking at the trailer I dont even think about watching this.

    Comment by Guru — November 8, 2013 @ 11:18 pm

  2. OK Ram Gopal Verma has his own weird and lame style of making movies but I want to touch on that a little. What kind of sicko comes with ideas like Rakthcharitra, Phoonk (and their pathetic sequels) and there was this forgettable horror flick called Agyaat where the ending credits showed that the mystery of the haunted entity would be revealed in its sequel, Agyaat 2. Not that I cared much but the sequel is yet to come and I’m not holding my breath, Ramu.

    Even that so called “docudrama” called Attacks of 26/11, if you lived in a cave for last 6 years and knew nothing about the Mumbai terrorist attacks, you’d be almost forgiven for empathizing with the character of Kasab.

    What does Ramu think of himself? Is he some kind of desi Quentin Tarantino? Well hate to break it to that self-nominated creative genius that Tarantino’s films may be outrageous and shocking but they’re NOT INTENDED to be taken seriously. Ramu on the other hand, wants you to take him seriously through his movies. The censor board should keep this man in check because his ideas are deeply disturbing, and deliberately imposed on the audience to shock our sensibilities and/or ruin our week-ends.

    Satya 2 is what I would call a true example of a THIRD CLASS MOVIE on a THIRD CLASS SUBJECT. Here’s top 10 reasons:

    1. That silly voice-over throughout the movie was such a cop out: Rajeev, I’m sure you know some good people in the film industry. Can you pass a simple message? Please ask them not to over-abuse voice-overs. These narrators serve no purpose other than making the movies so damn predictable in the first 10 minutes itself. The idea behind movies and theatre or any any other arts is to “SHOW, NOT TELL”. The narrator in a third class accent manages to ruins whatever interest one may have tried to develop of a movie. Don’t treat the audience as dumb animals. We don’t need another pointless repetition of how the Mumbai underworld came in power and the fake encounters and the so-called super-cops. Try to be a smart director and avoid giving out too much about your characters and plot.

    2. The film was based on a fantastical and unconvincing notion that someone from Chattisgarh came to Mumbai and became a Don overnight. To call it far-fetched would be an understatement. Please, Ramu, I know you have lost all touch with reality but stop insulting the intelligence of audiences. It’s always a pleasure to view a movie that is based on facts or can easily convince you with their premise. Some imagination is healthy but an overdose of wild imagination and silly fantasies make you lose all credibility.

    3. The only redeeming quality of this Satya character was supposed to be that he hated cops and rich people. Seriously? Is that a social message? Is it a crime to be rich? I know psychopaths come in all shapes and varieties but sketching them as protagonists is living out some kind of lurid sicko fantasies. What’s with this latest trend of directors and their brutal assault on common human sensibilities. I think these directors should be FORCED to undergo a compulsory course on ETHICS and MORALITY before being allowed to shoot with the camera.

    Comment by Sahil — November 9, 2013 @ 2:29 am

  3. @Sahil: You forgot to mention the lurid ‘Not A Love Story” where RGV glorified and sympathised with a real-life murderer. I am sure Khap Panchayat would be proud of that. It sounds like a cliché but the director of gems like Company and Satya has lost it completely.

    Comment by Bunny — November 9, 2013 @ 1:10 pm

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