Producer & Director: Ramgopal Varma
*ing: Chakravarthy, Urmila Matondkar, Manoj Bajpai, Shefali Chayya and Govind Namdeo, Guest Appearances by Paresh Rawal & Neeraj Vohra
Released on : July 3, 1998
Reviewed by: Mohammad Ali Ikram
Ladies and gentlemen, a standing ovation please... A standing ovation for Satya, one of the best movies I have seen in my entire life (and boy have I seen a lot of movies).
A standing ovation for the story, theme and messages of Satya. The writers prove a very strong point through this paradoxical tale of an orphaned Indian man called Satya (Truth), Chakravarthy, living in the world of the Mumbai underworld. Satya's universe is replete with lies, deception and a lack of respect for life. Our hero, if he can be called that, is a dangerously intelligent character who uses his mind to contribute to destruction. Helping a gang of seedy folks, including Bhiku (Manoj Bajpai), he wages senseless gang wars through the Indian metropolis, where innocent bystanders are always the victims. Satya proves that brilliance, without morals and ethics, is quite literally a deadly weapon.
A standing ovation for the cast of the movie. Urmila Matondkar as Vidhya, an aspiring singer caught in the deceptive web of Satya's love, proves she is a multi-faceted actress. If in one movie this actress can be street-smart and sexy (Daud), the next minute she is convincingly conservative, innocent and docile. The rest of the players are just as perfect, and if you look carefully you will note that Mr. Varma has used many of them in his previous films. Manoj Bajpai, as Bhiku, and Shefali Chayya as his wife are two folks that must be singled out. The film will remind you that real-life villains do not breathe each minute of life through violence. A scary thought that one minute these folks kill one another without regret and the next minute they can return to their roles of fathers, brothers and husbands just like you and me. So much for the belief that evil never has a caring face.
A standing ovation for the excellent background score and technical credits in the movie. Never needlessly glossy or commercial, the cinematographer aptly captures the mood of Satya, just as Sandeep Chowta's music compliments the scenes. In fact, upon hearing Chowta's score for this movie (including the instrumental "Mood of Satya" on the film's soundtrack), I strongly feel he could have done a better job than Vishal's songs for the movie. "Baadalon Se" is still a great song, but I am confident Sandeep Chowta could have done it better.
A standing ovation for Ramgopal Varma. This talented, but neglected, director improves his skills with every film he makes, a trend which will be hard to continue after this perfect movie. (Varma's next is a psychological thriller called Kaun starring Urmila and Manoj Bajpai.) Note the changes in genre between his movies also. Shiva, Drohi and Raat were good. Rangeela was very good. Daud was excellent (in my opinion). And Satya is unparalleled. The scenes are tightly knit and well thought out, while the characters are real and believable. One can sense a great deal of effort went into the making of this movie.
A standing ovation for the intelligence craving audience who goes to see this movie. There were only three people in the cinema when I went to see Satya (including myself and Mom). It is really sad that people would see Amitabh's Major Saab (rather Major Commercial Overkill) rather than Satya. Varma's former under-appreciated flick, Daud was a fun and frivolous film too ethically bold for many, and so it flopped. However, there is no reason why Satya should meet the same fate. It is a rarity from which one can learn about humanity. For those who go to see it, and learn something, a standing ovation. For the rest of you, I hope you enjoy the several thousand Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kyas that will plague us in the near few years.
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