More than half way into Sarkar 3, Sarkar is grimly discussing with his ailing wife the prospect of killing his grandson. She begs him not to. She says, ‘log kya kahenge, kaisi family hai yeh’. I wanted to lean into the frame and say: Ma’am, it’s a little late in the day to think about the family reputation.
We’ve already seen two films in which the Nagre khandan has retained its might and authority through brutal power plays. Several members of the family are murderers, including the patriarch Subhash, also known as Sarkar. In the first film, the elder brother tries to kill Subhash after which, the younger brother kills him. In the second, the pregnant wife of the younger brother is blown up in a car explosion. Later in the film, the son is also felled by a shower of bullets. Clearly this is not your Sooraj Barjatya or Karan Johar parivar. Hum saath saath nahin hain.
Sarkar 3 is more of the same – Chikoo, the hot-headed grandson returns to the fold. But can he be trusted? Or is he conspiring with many enemies to take out Sarkar? These include a rival politician, the daughter of a man Sarkar might have killed, a shady businessman who wants to implement a 20,000 crore project in Dharavi. And my absolute favorite from this gallery of rogues - Jackie Shroff as Vallya the don, who is based in Dubai.
I couldn’t figure out what Vallya does but he keeps mumbling into the phone. He has a luscious girlfriend who keeps asking him questions about his work. In one scene, they are both basking in a swimming pool and he says, ‘politics badi kutti cheez hai’. In another, she is feeding dolphins while he conducts business on the side. I cannot describe to you the comedy of these situations. Each time, the tedious story and pounding background music made my head hurt, I fervently prayed that Jackie and his lady would appear. Few characters have given me the joyous relief that this woman did.
The truth is that Sarkar 3 has no reason to exist. Director Ram Gopal Varma doesn’t update the story or tell us anything new. In fact, we are presented with an identical scenario to the first film - a stranger comes to Sarkar for help. Sarkar refuses to contribute to the illegal operation and says he won’t let anyone else do it either. Which of course puts a bloodbath into motion. The story writers P. Jaya Kumar and Nilesh Girkar repeats the themes of the earlier films – characters keep insisting that Sarkar is a soch and not merely a man. And of course no one has a normal conversation. Everyone is pronouncing and declaring. At one point, all of them are talking in jungle metaphors – sher, billi etc. etc. It’s hilarious.
Ramu’s love for bizarre camera angles is in place. As is his passion for curious artefacts. So a life-size bulldog figurine occupies much of the foreground space. A Laughing Buddha statue also has a moment. Characters are photographed in breathless close-ups. Everyone glares a lot. And the house style is gamcha and grit.
But nowhere in this unholy mess will you find an authentic emotion. It’s all posturing, which reduces fine actors like Manoj Bajpayee and Ronit Roy to caricatures. Even the mighty Amitabh Bachchan has a tough time imbuing heft into this film. Only Jackie looks like he’s having fun.
Sarkar was a skilful reworking of The Godfather. Sarkar Raj was noisy and less coherent but the performances still delivered a punch. Sarkar 3 is unintentional comedy. Ramu should have quit while he was ahead and put that ‘Govinda Govinda’ theme to rest.