When you see the Balaji Films banner flash, certain fears do pop up. And with Sarkar Raj, I have to admit that most of my fears did come true. After all the setting was just right, it is a sequel, so you have some basic characters already well established. For now it was just a matter of Ram Gopal Verma (RGV) filling up the template that he once successfully created.
Hence Sarkar Raj does what every sequels does - recreate the atmosphere of the original, play around with the characters from the original, introduce fresh characters into it like those Balaji serials, get some out, bring some more in, and the game goes on. And it could not get any better, if the game is one of politics.
We join the Nagre family where we left off, Sarkar (Amitabh Bachchan) is still the supremo but the man who is really running the show is his son Shankar Nagre (Abhishek Bachchan). And together they keep the Sarkar name running.
To this perfect scenario comes a multinational company which wants to start a plant in rural Maharashtra. Though Senior Nagre is not happy with the proposal of the company's CEO Anita Ranjan (Aishwarya Rai), the beta Nagre thinks otherwise. He sees the potential of such a project and knows how beneficial it is in the long run.
So Shankar convinces the Sarkar household, and then goes on to educate the villagers with Anita in tow. However things are not so straightforward, as the plant suddenly becomes the object of attention. Political forces all emerge from all corners, both high and low, for a share and the intentions are not always like what they seem to the eye.
But fighting all setbacks, Shankar is all fired up on making this project a reality and will go travel the distance to make this a possibility.
But eventually inspite of the Bachchan character of Subash Nagre being a Bal Thakerey ripoff, the film was essentially what RGV sets out to do - a desi Godfather. Though this time Ram Gopal Verma wants to prove that he still got it in him. And so he ensures that this is not an extension of any Godfather series. Hence RGV sticks to politics this time. However he takes on Indian politics big time.
But what RGV really presents here is not just any family of power. A detailed look and we know the inspirations are the ruling family of India itself. While many of the audiences might just lap it up at face value (that is the Bachchan household redefining the term 'family drama'), there are still a lot that will instantly recognize that the history books are being thrown at their faces. In fact RGV also tries to touch at some controversial 'conspiracy theories' of the partition era without getting into any major trouble. Smart. And eventually Sarkar Raj saga does leave us with an update of the current political scenario - an outsider lady taking over the reigns of power, while a grandson is being prepared to carry forth the dynasty.
Aishwarya Rai was just a shameless add on. The whole Anita-Shankar track seems terribly forced. Obviously if it was not for the real life references that RGV was trying to make, this was a character that could have been done away with. To start with she is hardly the woman of substance that all the pre-publicity hype was making her character to be. Surely RGV, there is more to such a woman than just a shirt unbuttoned look. However Aishwarya's character of Anita hardly had anything substantial about her and is disappointing when you consider her impressive outing in Jodhaa Akbar.
Abhishek Bachchan continues from where he left off last time. His eyes still breath fire, and the man delivers in his rather cold approach to the proceedings. However while he stole the show the first time around, it is Amitabh Bachchan who gets the better cup in this trip. Eventually Senior Bachchan tries to redeem the legendary tag of his from a debacle like RGV Ki Aag in a big way. And RGV makes up in a sense for the loud Babban with this calmer Subash Nagre. The film again shows why Amitabh Bachchan is a class actor!
Also one must say how impressive the new find of the RGV stable is Rajesh Shringarpure. With just a few scenes, he creates an impact that was certainly missing with Kay Kay not being there this time around. But unfortunately his character fails to live up to its potentiality. So expect a similar fate to that of Kay Kay's.
Technically you know that a RGV movie has a different look and feel to it. Though at one time it was cutting edge advancement, the same cannot be told these days with everyone catching up. However RGV still retains his stamp, be it on the music, the screenplay, the angles, the feel. Yet one cannot help feeling how over indulgent he gets with these mediums. He lets Amar Mohile go wild with his ear scorching background score, while Amit Roy seems to be a lot excited getting to toy his camera.
There is a lot of that in-your-face approach, that you wonder if the aim of the game is to count the wrinkles on the stars' faces. Some of the key moments definitely could have done away with that. But Ramu thinks every part of an actor's body has a say in acting, right up to the nostrils. Editing is also a mixed bag. At times it looks top of the notch while at times it gets shoddy and RGV maintains the lethargic pace of the original. Oh yes, this is a sequel, remember?
Irrespective of all that, this is still one of the finer attempts from RGV in a long time. However it would be going overboard if I claim that he is back in a grand way. Because at the end of the day, for some one like RGV this is just one of those exercise routines where he got more things right than wrong. But never does it ever pose a threat to the list of his masterpieces. For we all know that RGV is a director capable of much more.
With Sarkar Raj what he manages essentially, is to maintain the solid punch and feel that he delivered the first time around. Thus in that RGV can sigh a relief. Yet it is obvious that this one deserve a trilogy style follow up to wrap things up. This is one that RGV can easily pick up and take the series for a third go. But for the time being, here is a rather pleasing and fitting sequel that ties up to the original in a much better way than the namesake Bollywood sequels of these days do!
And as for Ramu, after all those holidays, with Sarkar Raj, he is definitely back at work!