There is a statue of a bulldog in the sitting room of Subhash ‘Sarkar’ Nagre, that is witness to all the action in the room — the growling, scheming and an occasional murder when Sarkar lures a prey into his den. One has to admire the bulldog tenacity of Ram Gopal Varma who wanders all over and comes back to his gangster sagas — Sarkar 3 is so grim and contrived, that one notices the weird camera angles and compositions are all mostly dark and people are caught in strange poses, through the handle of a cup, the legs of a person, or between the raised hands of a Laughing Buddha statue.
At the start of the film, you are told that power is about respect, not fear, and then several times is the line, “Sarkar ek soch hai,” as if Varma is trying to seek the key of the three films in that. But after watching all the films, one has to guess at the soch. From this film alone, it isn’t quite clear what Sarkar (Amitabh Bachchan) actually does, except make thunderous speeches, ‘help’ the poor, manipulate the politicians and cops of the state, and plot a few killings to get rid of the bad guys. But you are told to believe he is the good guy and only murders those who, according to him, deserve to die.
The twisty-turny and entirely predictable wheeling-dealing takes place over a project in Dharavi, for which a bunch of wicked businessmen (one of them called Gandhi), want to oust the families that live there. Manoj Bajpayee is an aspiring leader, and Jackie Shroff a hilarious villain (Ajit being the obvious inspiration), who is given some loony lines, and a scantily-clad moll. The main difference between him and Sarkar is that he treats the woman with disdain, while the older man looks at his bed-ridden wife (Supriya Pathak) with touching tenderness.
As Sarkar performs an elaborate ritual before a smiling portrait of his dead son (Abhishek Bachchan, killed in the last film), his grandson Shivaji (Amit Sadh) lands up, to offer his services as heir. There is immediate tension between him and Sarkar’s loyal Gokul (Ronit Roy). Shivaji’s choice of girlfriend (Yami Gautam) is unfortunate in that she has a reason to hate Sarkar. So while Dharavi becomes a pawn, the body count of shooters rises.
Varma may be hampered by a lazy script, but he can still pull off a thumping Ganapati sequence, several shootouts and make Amitabh Bachchan give a mesmerising turn again as Sarkar, in which he can make tea preparing and slurping an act of menace. The other actors have a lot of catching up to do.
- Deepa Gahlot