First things first: A huge round of applause to Ram Gopal Varma. The director has redeemed himself after the failures of NISHABDH and AAG. This here is vintage Ramu at his best, no doubt about it. Just goes to show that one should stick to what one is best at. And no one uncovers the underbelly of crime and politics as succinctly as RGV.
SARKAR RAJ is a thriller to the core. It may have the background of power politics but when it's time to reveal his cards, Ramu pulls out his 'Aces', one after another to dish out a gripping fare. The final 'Ace' he delivers at Sarkar's house is mind numbing! To reveal more would be a crime. Just goes to show that it's not only the ones bred in the city who are power hungry, but also those in far off villages! Hence, he does full justice to the tagline: 'Power cannot be given. It has to be taken'. And on this line rests the plot of SARKAR RAJ, a sequel to SARKAR! Yes, it also takes a fresh look at the tradition versus modernity debate.
Anita Rajan (Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan) is the CEO of Sheppard Power Plant. This international company wants to set up a power plant in rural Maharashtra. Only the Nagres can help. A meeting is facilitated by Govind Namdeo (Hassan Qazi) an aspiring politician. Sarkar (Amitabh Bachchan) sees no sense in this project and dismisses it outright. But Shankar Nagre (Abhishek Bachchan) thinks otherwise. He feels that this power plant will be a huge benefit for the villagers in the interiors of Maharashtra. After convincing his father, Sarkar, he mobilizes support from the villagers and goes about the business with Anita. But things are not as easy as they seem. Shankar meets with obstacles, one after another and as the plot unfolds, you realise how the characters are used as a pawn for a completely different game!
The background score by Debashish Mishra is commendable. Even when there are no dialogues being spoken, Mishra creates the mood, which speaks a thousand words with his music, as the cameraman, Amit Roy, takes astute angles. The sepia tone throughout the film maintains the mood of this exciting fare. To my mind, there is no standout performance.
Sarkar is the shrewd old, wily politician that he is. Experience is a great teacher but he allows his son, Shankar, to make his own decisions. Abhiskek Bachchan, slips into the role, permanently brooding. Has it to do something with the murder of his brother Vishnu in SARKAR? Maybe. The scene where Vishnu is remembered is intelligently woven to connect the two films. Rajesh Shringapure (Sanjay Somji) impresses in his fiery approach, mobilizing support against the Power Plant.
But for me, the real 'Ace' is Dilip Prabhawalkar (Rao Saab). He fits the part and performs to the 'T'.
There are a few jarring moments which don't really move with the scenes. Like for instance, why is Sarkar or Shankar not able to 'smell' the enemy in their camp when he is sitting right there with them one moment, and the next moment he is hatching a plot with Qazi. Haven't they enough 'informers'? Or why is a politician not seeing monetary benefits in a project as huge as this? Also, Govind Namdeo's make-up looks like that of a stage artist; it does not go with the flow. These are small glitches that you overlook as you look at the larger picture on screen and are easily forgiving to the director who finishes off the proceedings with finesse. The dialogues, the one-liners, are awesome. To my mind, RGV is the real star of the film.
TO GO OR NOT: A must watch. SARKAR RAJ, is an understated approach of the powerful machinations of those wanting to grab a piece of the pie.