My heart sank as I came out of the theatre after watching a dismal Sarkar 3 last night. Before getting into the theatre, I wanted the movie to be good, like how I had prayed for Veerappan to be good,
My heart sank as I came out of the theatre after watching a dismal Sarkar 3 last night. Before getting into the theatre, I wanted the movie to be good, like how I had prayed for Veerappan to be good, too, last year. I had thought that if Amitabh Bachchan, who is on a roll these days thanks to Piku and Pink, has given his nod to this movie, there must be something interesting that Ram Gopal Varma has concocted this time. Alas, the reasons for Amitabh Bachchan for saying yes to this movie remains the same as it was while agreeing to be a part of Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag and Department – perhaps to elicit a cruel laugh at the expense of his fans. Sarkar 3 was bad, despite Amitabh Bachchan’s performance, and you have no one but Ram Gopal Varma to blame. He has left one of his die-hard fans in me disappointed, and there is no coming back from here. But before I get into the reasons why, let me give you give a little insight into RGV’s career, as I see it.
Ram Gopal Varma’s career can be divided into five different phases, based on his various obsessions – pre-Urmila, Urmila, Antara Mali, Nisha Kothari-Amitabh Bachchan and Being Troll. In his pre-Urmila phase, two movies that stood out were Raat and Shiva. To this day, Raat continues to terrify the living daylights of me. It is the best horror movie ever made in Bollywood, despite being a box office failure. Unlike the recent horror movies that use jump scares and loud BG score, Raat used minimalism to get the maximum scare impact. Then there was Nagarjuna-starrer Shiva, which, till date, remains one of the best and realistic campus movies ever made.
RGV’s best came during the Urmila phase, that began with Rangeela, which heralded Ram Gopal Varma as a force to reckon with. Rangeela had one of Aamir’s finest performances, and the movie’s handling of how Bollywood works was lauded by the critics then. It also introduced AR Rahman to mainstream Bollywood. Daud, that followed later with Sanjay Dutt and Urmila Matondkar, bombed but it was still an enjoyable black comedy that was way ahead of its time. Satya came soon after, and was termed as the most definitive gangster drama in Bollywood by many critics. Other notable movies by the filmmaker were Kaun and Company. Why, he even made us briefly interested in Fardeen Khan in the very underrated film, Jungle. From thereon, every movie that Ram Gopal Varma announced made the movie buff in me excited. This brilliant phase ended with Bhoot.
Then the Antara Mali phase began, which was decent but still a pale shadow of his previous phase. More than his directorials, this phase has his productions. Some noteworthy films were Naach, Darna Mana Hai, Ab Tak Chappan et all.
Sarkar began the fourth phase of his career, during which he was obsessed with not one but two people – the legendary Amitabh Bachchan and the not-at-all legendary, Nisha Kothari. Interestingly Sarkar had both of them in the same movie. Though the phase started off with a bang, his career spiraled faster downwards from there on with his decision to remake Sholay as Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag being the biggest misfire. With that move, Ram Gopal Varma had begun nailing the final nail in his coffin. The phase that began with Sarkar in 2005, and ended in 2013 with The Attacks of 26/11, had RGV direct 15 films in Bollywood with only 2 hits – Sarkar and Sarkar Raj. He could not deliver a single hit after Sarkar Raj, which came in 2008, and that’s nearly a decade back.
And then began the Being Troll phase, where his priorities changed to something else – taking on celebs for no rhyme or reason. After 2013, he took a hiatus from Bollywood and worked in the South. There he did a couple of decent movies, and a few sleazy horror flicks like the Ice Cream franchise. But more than his movies, it was his tweets that were making news, whether he was taking on Pawan Kalyan, The Khans, Karan Johar, Sridevi or recently, Tiger Shroff and Vidyut Jammwal. It is at these times that we feel that the man has totally lost focus on his work, and is more interested in what everyone else is doing. There were occasions when he tried to revive his career by making sequels to his iconic movies like Satya 2, Bhoot Returns but they only helped in alienating the audience from even the original movies. In between, he had also developed this weird obsession to let his camera to either turn into a voyeur and focus on women’s cleavage and thighs, or have a very distracting feet fixation. Clearly, the once-brilliant director has lost the plot.
But life often gives you opportunities to make amends, and RGV got one to make a comeback in Bollywood with Veerappan, a remake of his own Kannada thriller. It was a subject that he was comfortable with, and since it featured no huge stars, expectations were less. Like how M Night Shyamalan redeemed himself with The Visit, we expected the same to happen for RGV with Veerappan. Alas, the movie was marred with goddamn-awful performances from everyone involved, as well as a very amateurish writing. It should have been the end of his Bollywood career, but God was not done with him. He gave RGV another opportunity through Sarkar 3. Amitabh Bachchan was willing to come on board, his former protege Manoj Bajpayee also returned to his fold, there was Jackie Shroff, Amit Sadh, Ronit Roy and Yami Gautam. And yet, RGV managed to screw up royally. You can know the extent of his screw-up by checking out our review here. The movie has received universally bad reviews and poor box office reception. Above all, it didn’t even feel like it was directed by a man who gave Mumbai its three iconic movies like Satya, Company and Sarkar. That’s Sarkar 3’s biggest failure.
Sarkar 3 was RGV’s final chance to make a comeback, and since he has made a mess of this, I don’t think any financier would really want to invest in another RGV product. It’s sad since Bollywood, usually reluctant to experiment with genres, really needed a director like him. But Ram Gopal Varma currently has a bigger job at hand – he has to save himself from his own obnoxiousness. We can only hope that he manages to do that, though it seems to be a far-fetched idea now. But we will always have the DVDs of Rangeela, Daud, Satya, Kaun and Company to remember that there was this director who brought Hollywood to Bollywood when it came to brilliant content.