After directing four flops in a row,any other director might have quit their profession. But Bollywood's Quentin Tarantino isn't backing off. With Sarkar Raj out on June 6, Ram Gopal Varma hopes to redress the balance and return to his place at the top of the Indian film business. DEVANSH PATEL reports
It can take 20 years to build a reputation and only five minutes to ruin it. In Ram Gopal Varma's case, this stands true. But after directing four flops in a row (Shiva, Nishabd, RGV's Aag and Darling), the man previously known for making gritty, twisty thrillers and smart, self-referential masala pictures with ace actors turning in some of the best performances of their careers (think Satya, Company and Sarkar) was not about to give up.
Now Varma has bounced back with a bang with Sarkar Raj (a sequel to Sarkar) released on June 6 and starring the three Bachchans - Amitabh, Abhishek and Aishwarya.
Not only are the three Bachchans acting together for the first time in a full length feature film, Sarkar Raj also happens to be Abhishek and Aishwarya's first film since their marriage. How exciting is that?
And the excitement doesn't stop there. After a year of honeymooning, embarking on pilgrimages, arriving hand-in-hand with hubby at premiere nights and basking in the glory of her recent success 'Jodhaa Akbar', Aishwarya is set to take Bollywood by storm once more.
India's highest paid actress is back in Mumbai after celebrating her first wedding anniversary in Miami last month, and is gearing up for the launch of Sarkar Raj which has its world premiere at the IIFA Awards in Bangkok on June 6, when the creme de la creme of Bollywood will walk the green carpet along with the awesome threesome (green in support of action against climate change).
But if Sarkar was highly derivative of the Hollywood gangster flick The Godfather, the sequel Sarkar Raj isn't The Godfather: Part II.
The script is inspired by the real life Enron disaster in the mid-1990's. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan's character is based on Rebecca Mark, a high flying Enron executive, who managed to lose Enron $2billion before resigning. She was never accused of any crimes and actually walked out of Enron with about $80 million in stock options before the scandal broke. She immediately cashed them in, leaving her one of the few Enron executives to emerge smelling like roses.
After delivering one of his best performances in Sarkar, the junior Bachchan, Abhishek, is all set to take over the film from daddy Amitabh Bachchan.
Sarkar was a fairly simplistic tale with the basic plot of a son (Abhishek as Shankar Nagre) taking revenge against those who attacked his father (Amitabh as Subhash Nagre).
Simple, isn't it? Of course there is a power game involved with the political and underworld story, but the basic germ of the plot is centered on revenge.
Sarkar Raj doesn't start from where Sarkar left off. It is just another episode in the life of the Nagres where the situations become far more complex. And though the common element in both films is the insightful sociological study of violence, power, honour and obligation, and corruption and crime in India, the sequel looks far more promising in terms of Abhishek's acting.
In Sarkar, he was only shown in full swing after the interval. Let's hope this time around, he takes over the control from frame one.
One thing is sure though, this yuva (youngster) is soon going to be the guru (teacher) and sarkar (boss) of Bollywood.
Coming to the Big Baap (father) of Bollywood, Amitabh Bachchan. Without him, the film would collapse like a pack of cards. This actor just keeps getting better film by film. Dressed in his black outfit from top to toe in Sarkar, Big B, as we lovingly call him, will be seen at his fiery best in the sequel too.
And finally, the byline for Sarkar Raj which says, 'Power cannot be given, it has to be taken' stands true for its director.
Being almost powerless after his four debacles last year, Ram Gopal Varma has the guts to not only take one or two but three power-packed performers of Bollywood. And when you add Amitabh, Abhishek and Aishwarya you don't get power, but get powerful.
Sarkar and the soon-to-be-released Sarkar Raj is an impressive reminder that Varma is a director whose strongest movies come out of his conflict with the Bollywood system, not his total rejection of it.
No matter what the fate of the film will be, you'd be a fool not to watch Sarkar Raj on June 6. Book your seats in advance!