‘Sarkar 3’ Is a Lesson in How to Get Everything Wrong

Sarkar 3 is so juvenile that you can’t take it seriously and get offended; the only way to endure it is to play along and chuckle.

A still from <em>Sarkar 3</em>

A still from Sarkar 3

Ram Gopal Varma’s latest, Sarkar 3, is a bad film. Starring Amitabh Bachchan, Amit Sadh, Yami Gautam, a framed photo of Abhishek Bachchan and a bunch of pissed-off dudes (whose only job in the film is to glare, and glare some more), Sarkar 3 is a colossal embarrassment. Let’s start with the most important element of the film: its background score, helmed by the franchise regular ‘Govinda’, which transitions wildly, and quickly, from overbearing to ludicrous, annoying to unbearable, sound to noise. Varma cannot tolerate even a moment of silence; everything needs to be emphasised, explained and repeated. So Govinda finds a spiritual partner in the ‘Sam Dham’ track, which exhibits the symptoms of an unsupervised kid at a rave: eager and energetic, nervous and clueless, confused and awkward.

Varma makes a lot of movies. Varma makes a lot of bad movies. The debates about whether the filmmaker still has it in him have long been dead. Instead, they’ve been replaced by more nuanced concerns, such as, what would make his films shoddy? Voyeuristic cinematography? Bad acting? An overwrought background score? Predictable plotting? Naïve, juvenile, inane worldviews masquerading as dialogues? Or, when the stars align, nearly everything? In the case of Sarkar 3, the stars mostly align.

Sarkar 3 is an easy film to dislike. Which is its most abiding charm. It’s the kind of film where the anti-hero (Sadh) says, “Yeh khel usne shuru kiya hai (He started this game),” then takes a long pause to end it with, “khatam main karunga (but I’ll end it)” – a line that has only been used in 837 films before. It’s the kind of film where another character, in a fit of anger, ends a meeting by saying, “Love you”. (Why?) It’s the kind of film that manages to have exposition in a scene with… no dialogues. It’s the kind of film where two gangsters, after having discussed a plan for murder, do a quasi-fist bump. It’s the kind of film that, on the surface, revolves around the most powerful man in Mumbai and yet, for the most part, unfolds with the tension of a domestic fight. It’s the kind of film where the plot turns are so predictable that you can play a mini-game in your head, giving yourself a point every time you outsmart the writers. (You will win.)

But nothing – really nothing – can prepare you for the befuddlement that is Jackie Shroff’s character. Playing the role of an influential “businessman who does some politics” (his words not mine, for his character is wonderfully vague), Shroff’s Michael is a textbook misogynist. In most of his scenes, he’s with a girl in skimpy clothes, busy deriding her. (How much of that is the character or the director, who has a history of making misogynistic statements himself, is anyone’s guess.) Michael always addresses her as “darling”, ridiculing and scaring her. In one scene, he shoots down her question by tapping her head, saying, “Pooch mat darling, soch (Don’t ask, darling, think).” In another, when she asks whether he’ll gift her a ring, our benevolent man goes, “Jis jis ko maine ring pehnaya darling, woh mar gayi hain (Everyone I’ve put a ring on, darling, has died).” And finally, fed up by her questions, he orders his underling to bump her off. Besides, for some strange reason, their scenes are frequently shot amid dolphins. Is that a metaphor for something? There’s no way to tell.

Moreover, the film completely ignores a protagonist of its prequel, Sarkar Raj, Anita (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan), who should have carried the story here. Even the female lead of Sarkar 3, Annu (Gautam), devolves into an inconsequential character after a point. Sarkar 3 is so juvenile and stupid that you can’t take it seriously and get offended; the only way to endure it is to play along and chuckle. Giving this film and its director anything more is to give them more credit than they deserve.

Sarkar 3 can only be seen for unintentional laughs. It is loud; it makes scant sense; its politics, and the way people react to it, is infantile. It constantly challenges itself by trying to lower the bar. (It succeeds.) It takes a stab at the bigger picture – the conundrums of a powerful man trying to balance his personal and collective gains. (It fails.) And yet, the most unfortunate part about this film is that, even with all its inanity, it’s not the filmmaker’s worst. And so, the mind shudders, the heart bleeds – and they don’t look forward to another Varma film.

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  • ashok759

    Baghban was the last AB film that was watchable. The great man should focus on endorsements.

    • Anjan Basu

      Focus on endorsements? I thought every commercial endorsement in India is focussed on him, in any case. (Indeed, but for the PM’s, AB’s would have to be the most-seen face on national TV.) But he seems not to know when he has had enough. Hence this endless procession of eminently forgettable films, each completely indistinguishable from the rest, and each competing for the top prize for stupidity and inanity. And the chilling fact is, just as ‘Sarkar 3’ is still not Ram Gopal Varma’s worst day out, so it is (not) AB’s nadir yet. The mind shudders, the heart bleeds, but that’s that.