Review: Ram Gopal Varma Ki Saag
1 September, 2007
BY SHUBIR RISHI
Warning: Spoilers inside (Like you care!)
Man, this movie was touted as ‘Movie of the Year’, a ‘Remake of a masterpiece by a Master Craftsman,’ and God knows what not. Hell, I was waiting for this movie for a better part of the last six months. I even skipped work today to watch it, fought at the ticket counter, and almost got a tummy tonsil (ulcer) in anticipation till the movie started. I even liked the opening credits---the part where they show the star cast with cool graphics---but those ended soon, and all my fears came true.
I understand RGV’s penchant for low-angled cameras, dark settings, and a subtle style of storytelling. I really do. I also understand that the original Sholay is one of his favorite films (apparently one of the movies which launched him to where he is today, which is to say nowhere), and his passion for pretty, petite, and busty heroines with sharp canines and scowls (Urmila Matondkar, Antara Mali, and now Nisha Kothari).
All these things have worked for him
in the past (albeit on and off), but
annoyingly, it’s become repetitive,
sad, and extremely predictable. This
movie, in particular, starts with a
very sorry premise, and when it ends
(you WAIT FOR IT!) it leaves you with
a headache (migraine attack in my
case), and absolutely empty.
During one of their ‘missions’, they
are arrested by a law-abiding Police
Inspector Narasimha (Mohanlal) –
surprisingly agile for his size, with
The dialogues go something like this:
Narasimha: Why does your master pay you so much money?
Raj/Hero: How do we know? We don’t care anyway. He can afford to.
Narasimha: What are your qualifications? Are you educated?
Raj/Hero: Why are you asking this? Let us go.
Narasimha: Did you know your boss is a gangster with a zillion murder cases on him?
Raj/Hero: (Stunned silence, quick exchange of meaningful glances, dumbfounded looks)
I mean, WTF? These two guys are
supposedly street smart for crying out
loud, they are petty thieves or
whatnot, and they don’t KNOW they are
working for a gangster? Come the #$%^
Anyway, Babban has an eye on Kaliganj, because its prime land (sea-facing, you see) and he generally is a greedy guy. Goons are dispatched to the local Pradhan, but our deadly duo beats the crap out of them, and sends them back. What follows next is a pathetic rendition of the famous “kitney aadmi the” scene from Sholay. I will recommend you carry a rubber squeeze toy with you, because you’ll want to hurt someone bad, but will end up making deep gashes in your own arm, since you realize everyone else in the cinema hall is as tortured as you are. Of course, Babban shoots the beat-up goons, turns around, and comes up with another gem “Diwali kab hai? Kab hai Diwali?"
Copy paste the Holi scene from Sholay. Only, the goons have rocket launchers and AK47s, in place of the more humble Lee Enfield 303s. Yes, it does show Hero firing with a Steyr Scout sniper rifle at close range, which makes this scene different. Yes, they kill a few crooks, beat the pulp out of a few more, but Babban manages to escape more or less unhurt. The entire sequence is studio-based and leaves you with no emotion. You just wait for it to end and get on with the next scene. Very unlike the original, which had many Oh-hell-what-now? moments.
Babban is mad as a hatter, but declares a fatwa over anyone who comes out of Kaliganj. Here, I’d like to ask Mr. RGV the following questions:
1. Where exactly is Kaliganj? Is it an island? If so, how does Ghungroo make a living? She drives an auto-rickshaw for heaven’s sake!
2. For that matter, what do the Kaliganj junta do for a living? Do they have regular jobs like the rest of the people in Mumbai? Is Kaliganj a self-sustained province? If so, WHY are the people poor?
3. Where is the Police chowky? If none exists, how is that possible?
Anyway, copy-paste again from Sholay. Gangly son of blind, old man (played by Gaurav Kapur and Virendra Saxena respectively) is picked up and killed when he leaves Kaliganj limits, and his dead body returned with a cryptic note: I am not Gandhi (!?)
Babban wants the locals to hand-over
the deadly duo. A heated and endless
argument ensues. They come up with a
plan -- Babban’s sidekick
Ghungroo is abducted, and Hero (he is
her lover, and they have sung two
songs, done the ‘suicide’ routine
already, but its not worth mentioning)
follows blindly. Hero is caught and
chained. Raj comes to the rescue,
kills half the gang, almost kills
Babban, but misses and gets totaled.
In a fit of
Amitabh Bachchan does a good job, not a shiver-down-your-spine job like Aks but definitely watchable. He stands out in almost every scene he comes in – he plays with the camera, looks straight at you, spits on the floor, does a half-menacing laugh, his smile becomes a snigger, and goes dead-pan the very next minute. The entire getup suits him, and you wonder why doesn’t he do more negative roles. A delight to watch, when he is not mumbling his lines, which he does in a few scenes. Still, he simply cannot save the movie on his own.
Ajay Devgan is a disappointment. He
should really realize that he is not
cut out for slapstick. Plus, he needs
to cover his midriff, like he used to
If indeed RGV needs to make another remake--this is his second, the first one being Shiva, which was a remake of James, which was a remake of the Nagarjuna-starrer Shiva, which had also been made by RGV--there are millions to pick from.
Why not make a Manoj Kumar remake, for instance? I can go on and on and on, citing examples of bad movies with good concepts, but that’s not the point. Leave the classics ALONE!