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Varma’s Latest Orgy of Violence

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Rana Daggubati and Amitabh Bachchan in “Department.”
  • India

    A filmmaker who has scant regard for his audience and uses easily available finance to indulge in films he just wants to make cannot be expected ever to spin out good cinema. But what is worse about Ram Gopal Varma is that he simply does not care for the content of his film and has for years become a parody (with the man, you never know whether even this is deliberate!) of the filmmaker who at least occasionally would deliver a “Rangeela,” “Satya” (I personally found the film average, but it was a hit and also remains a beloved with the critics), “Bhoot” and (as producer) “Ek Hasina Thi” and “Darna Mana Hai” at intervals. Personally, I also liked his last outing “Not A Love Story,” though the subject ensured that the people would reject it outright. 

    But this time we are back to the narcissistic filmmaker spinning out yet another ho-hum take on the underworld, concealing the weaknesses of the film with his usual barrage of expletives, grotesque and laughably freakish camera angles and movements and of course gratuitous violence that shows head banged against walls so that the wall cracks under the impact, a man shot through his mouth and blood splattering the wall behind, and a blind child dropped by a terrorist from a few floors up.

    The story had potential: the cops, fed up of underworld activity where the cops have their hands tied, begin a ‘Department’ under ace cop Mahadev Bhosle (Sanjay Dutt) to exterminate the society vermin. Hot-headed Shivnarayan (Rana Daggubati) is called in to join the force after being in disgrace for killing a criminal in cold blood in an encounter. There is gang rivalry between Mohammed Ghori (!), a don not shown in the film and one Sawatiya (Vijay Raaz) and elements like a cranky politician Sarjerao (Amitabh Bachchan) and Sawatiya’s reneging deputy (Abhimanyu Singh) and his lady lust (Madhu Shalini), who is as dangerous (she claims!) as any man in the gang.

    What follows is the usual round of double-crosses and double takes with a twist in the tale. The trouble is that the writing is so routine, the characters so gimmicky, the supposed highlights so laughably ridiculous and the violence so irritating that we lose interest in the film long before an automaton-like Bachchan enters the film just before interval. Sanjay Dutt sleepwalks and Daggubati, though sincere, does not look a quarter as appealing as he did in “Dum Maaro Dum” last year. At 132 minutes, the film for its content is at least 30 minutes (of unbridled violence mainly) too long.

    The ladies, other than Madhu Shalini, have nothing to do and Madhu’s coquettish femme fatale (!) act usually elicits titters and the camera angles and lines given to her add to the unintentionally hilarious moments. Nathalia Kaur’s dance is unabashedly erotic – the woman dances like a treat and has a figure to die for, but the cheap way in which her derriere is in full display and some crass costuming and camera angles and dance steps make for a big no-no.

    Yes, the song she does, “Dan dan cheeni,” composed by Dharam-Sandip and adapted from Maharashtrian folk, is musically worth three “Chikni chameli”s put together and more. Alas! The crass lyrics and the vehicle (actor and film both) in which it is placed has destroyed this sole redeeming point of an atrocious music score forever. A Katrina Kaif or Kareena Kapoor in tandem with Shreya Ghoshal or Sunidhi Chauhan would have taken their humdinger to the skies – in a better film with better lyrics, of course.

    To sum up, we just cannot resist a wisecrack: Some films just go wrong in every Department!

    Rating:*

     

    Ram Gopal Varma Productions, Viacom 18 Motion Pictures & Uberoi Line Productions present Department

    Directed by: RAM GOPAL VARMA

    Written by: NILESH GIRKAR

    Starring: AMITABH BACHCHAN, SANJAY DUTT, RANA DAGGUBATI, MADHU SHALINI, ANJANA SUKHANI, LAKSHMI MANCHU, ABHIMANYU SINGH, VIJAY RAAZ, DEEPAK TIJORI, NATHALIA KAUR & others

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