November 8, 2013
Ram Gopal Varma
Punit Singh Ratn, Anaika Soti, Amitriyaan, Aradhna Gupta, Mahesh Thakur, Makarand Deshpande (Narrator)
The kindest thing that can be said about RGV’s latest film is that it’s not half as bad as his Sholay remake Ram Gopal Varma ki Aag.
When Priya Mehra (Priyanka Chopra) in Krrish 3 said last week, “Krrish ek soch hai”, it made sense because she was pointing out that a superhero can never die if his convictions take root in the minds of the common people. Very much in that vein I guess, the eponymous hero of Satya 2 says at one point: “Company ek soch hai.” I suppose that’s his way of explaining how his gangster network (it’s literally called “Company”) can never die since its Robin Hood-esque agenda has been adopted by the masses. Yet it makes no sense, since nothing that comes before or after that grandiloquent line explains how exactly this man set up the Company, how precisely it works, what specifically it does or how on earth the public got wind of it while a crack police team failed to crack it.
Not that it matters, because by the time the film lumbers around to this scene, it has bored with its verbosity. God, it’s wordy! The narrator talks. The hero talks. Then the narrator talks some more. Then the hero talks and talks and talks. Worst of all, none of what they’re saying amounts to much though it’s evident that they’re trying to sound deep. Whatever happened to the Ramu we knew and whose work we once loved?
Satya 2 is the story of a small-town youngster called Satya (Punit Singh Ratn) who comes to Mumbai and quickly manages to become the top boss of the underworld. How? Never mind. He sets up a crime syndicate he calls Company without declaring himself or anyone else as its leader or openly linking the Company’s name to his own (unlike what that silly boy Dawood did with D Company). This is Satya’s magnificent strategy (magnificent in his opinion, not mine) to ensure that the police never catch him. They soon do, so what was the point of that strategy? Well, never mind that again.
While he’s busy with all this, Satya also makes time for a trio of friends: his lady love (Anaika Soti) who keeps biting her full lower lip, an aspiring film maker with a thick mop of curly hair (Amitriyaan) and a starlet with a flexible body (Aradhna Gupta). I describe the three in terms of their physicality because there’s nothing about their poorly written characters that’s striking. Soti can’t act to save her life, or this film. Amitriyaan and Gupta may possibly be better in a better film, though it’s hard to be sure. Ratn, on whom Satya 2 relies heavily, is not awful or anything – it’s just that he’s ordinary which, some might say, is worse. Watching him drone on about this and that, I found myself longing for the charisma of Nagarjuna from Ramu’s very first film Siva in Telugu (1989) and its Hindi remake Shiva; for Manoj Bajpayee’s memorable Bhiku Mhatre in the Hindi Satya; for Ajay Devgn’s brooding Malik and Vivek Oberoi’s explosive Nandu in Company. Watching Soti’s strange hip vibrations in a tacky honeymoon song-and-dance number, I found myself longing for Amala’s innocent charms in Siva/Shiva and Urmila Matondkar’s version of sexy in Rangeela.
No actor is better than their director, and Ramu was the man for all these stars. He’s also the man who forever changed the way Bollywood looked at the underworld when he made Satya in 1998. It was gritty, funny, bloody, dramatic and real. Four years later, he made the equally pathbreaking, slick, beautifully acted gangster flick Company. What happened between then and now is perhaps a question to which we’ll never find the answer. What turned Ramu from a pioneer into the creator of the most lacklustre sequel-to-a-classic in the history of sequels-to-classics? We may never find out. This much can be said with certainty: Satya and Satya 2 have nothing in common beyond their titles and director.
Oh wait … there’s a third commonality: I remember being moved to tears when I first watched Satya; by the time the credits rolled in Satya 2, my eyes were moist again – this time for the Ramu that once was.
Rating (out of five): 1/2
CBFC Rating (India):
2 hours 33 minutes
Photograph courtesy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satya_2