Satya Review – Surely, Ram Gopal Varma is Dead

(Thanks to Guruprasad.S, Satya, Zaid, Viswajithkn & other readers of the blog for recommending Satya.)

Even a hideous performance by the modern-day Lady Macbeth a.k.a. Urmila Matondkar can’t mar the beauty of this gangster flick Satya.

And all physical evidence to the contrary, we refuse to believe Ram Gopal Varma is still alive (If he’s not ashes, he must be food to the worms).


Because the brilliant director who entranced us with Satya is definitely not the blithering idiot who unleashed horror-shows like Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag and Sarkar Raj. The latter director is a devilish impostor.

Satya is everything a Bollywood gangster movie ought to be be. We would go as far as hailing it as the ne plu ultra of Indian mafia movies.

A gritty, violent movie that showcases solid acting, fine casting, a powerful story, mostly-tight screenplay and decent photography, Satya is adequate proof that even Indian film-makers can on rare occasions summon the energy to make watchable films.

As with a lot of movies belonging to the gangster genre, our eponymous protagonist Satya (Chakravarthy) is a poor soul who comes from nowhere to Mumbai with little more than the clothes on his back.

No sooner is he in Mumbai than our Satya is tossed into the dark underbelly of Mumbai’s underworld.

And soon after carted off to jail for a crime that he didn’t commit. It’s in jail that Satya first encounters Bhiku Mathre (Manoj Bajpai), a fellow inmate and later savior.

Bhiku is the vicious, boisterous, shoot-first and ask-questions-later foil to the pensive, sullen Satya.

Thoroughbred Actors
Together, Manoj Bajpai and Chakravarthy bring Satya to life as no Bollywood gangster movie we’ve watched. First in the jail and later as they execute their crimes outside, the two are a joy to behold on the screen.

Both Manoj and Chakravarthy are thoroughbred actors and offer a sliver of hope that all’s not completely lost in that Indian movie cesspool people label Bollywood.

Of the two actors, we thought Manoj Bajpai was more than a shade better.

It’s one of life’s great injustices that clowns like Abhishek Bachchan, Ajith, Salman Khan, Sanjay Dutt, Riteish Deshmukh et al torment us ad nauseum, ad infinitum in movie after movie but talented artistes like Manoj Bajpai and Chakravarthy end up as flotsam, relegated to the fringes of the Indian movie industry.

But make no mistake.

Satya is more than just Manoj Bajpai and Chakravarthy. So much more.

Saurabh Shukla as the bald Kallu Mama, Govind Namdev as the scheming politician Bhau and a host of lesser characters have given their all to the movie.

Rarely have we derived so much joy from a Hindi song like we did from Kallu Mama. To see the characters of Saurabh Shukla, Manoj Bajpai and the lesser criminal sidekicks dancing and drinking and singing with gusto is a lively treat that Bollywood fans are seldom treated to.

The crimes in Satya are mostly executed matter-of-factly, merely business as indeed they often are in the Mumbai underworld or elsewhere.

RGV does a decent job on the romance angle too.

Be it Bhiku’s ardor for his wife or Satya’s passion for Vidya (Urmila Matondkar), love is treated with a subtlety seldom seen in Bollywood.

Paisa Vasool
Satya is the real paisa vasool Hindi movie not offal like Shahrukh Khan’s Om Shanti Om as some dodos have recently suggested in comments on this blog.

Satya also decisively demolishes the argument made by buffoons that you can’t make a good movie without signing up jackasses like Abhishek Bachchan, Ajith, Nayantara, Priyanka Chopra or their many Luciferian siblings and cousins.

As we said at the outset, the only jarring note in Satya is a most disgraceful performance by that graceless apparition Urmila Matondkar.

How this Masoom-girl landed Vidya’s role is one of life’s inexplicable mysteries.

Just think if RGV had possessed the sense to feature a real actress like Tabu, how much more watchable Satya would have been. In scene after scene, this ugly monster Urmila Matondkar lets us down with her effete performance – when she beckons Satya to the balcony, when she sings in the rain, when Satya hands her the ring, when her father dies, when police inspector Khandelkar (Aditya Srivastava) confronts her about Satya and the final scene when Satya comes barging into her house.

Tis’ no hyperbole to say that watching Urmila Matondkar in Satya is like seeing excrement hurled on the Taj Mahal. Both provoke the same disgust.

But such is the power of Satya that even this nitwit of an actress could’t inflict much damage on the movie.

You want to know our favorite lines from the movie – Apan bhai log hai…Bhai log tarah rehna mangta apanko (a play on the Hindi word bhai used to describe both brother and the underworld).

Better than Nayagan
By the way, we found Satya so much more enjoyable than the much ballyhooed Tamil gangster film Nayagan.

Kamal Haasan’s movies often tend to be gluttonous narcissistic love feasts with Kamal hogging all the meat and offering mere bones to the rest of the cast. An irritating narcissism that reached its acme in the freakshow of 2008 – Dasavatharam.

Must Watch
Watch Satya by all means. You won’t regret the time or the rental fee.

If you live in the U.S., Satya is available on Netflix. In India too, we think this 1998 movie should still be easily available.

By the way, does anyone know where the Ram Gopal Varma memorial is located in India because we’d like to pay our respects at the shrine of this fine film-maker the next time we’re there.

25 Responses to "Satya Review – Surely, Ram Gopal Varma is Dead"

  1. flaviya   December 11, 2008 at 11:30 pm

    Lol….I watched this movie when I was in 7th grade. I liked it then, now I’m a senior in college and I like it now. Manoj Bhajpai is definitely underrated.Very good actor gone to waster……now he does movies like Bewafaa….where all he has to do is sing and dance.

    And yes, Urmila was bad in this movie. But she is not such a bad actress when compared to Aishwarya, Priyanka, Katrina, and the likes. She may not be a Tabu or a Chitrangadha Singh, but she can give a decent performance. She was good in Bhoot (horrible….horrible movie!), pyar tune kya kiya (another horrible movie), pinjar (good movie) and maine gandhi ko nayi maara (this one was a good movie….Anupam Kher did a fab job). Responds:

    1. We are catching up on a lot of movies we missed in the 1990s.

    2. Don’t think we’ve seen any of Chitrangadha Singh’s movies.

    Will try to watch her Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi if it’s available on Netflix.

    3. You write: Manoj Bhajpai is definitely underrated.Very good actor gone to waster……now he does movies like Bewafaa….where all he has to do is sing and dance.

    The man’s got to eat and feed his family.

  2. guruprasad.s   December 12, 2008 at 6:55 am

    There was a very small amount of doubt in my mind, on whether Satya would come through the litmus test posed by the reviewers of SearchIndia, more so in the wake of recent RGV movies. Glad that such doubts have been laid to rest.

    There is very little that is forced or manufactured in Satya, and when the movie came out in 1998, it just took people by shock-and-awe.
    After the much overrated Dil Se (1998) by Mani Rathnam (which people thought, Mani should have directed more from Dimaag Se rather than Dil Se), Satya came and showed how it should be, and it is, done.

    The Urmila angle in Satya was perhaps needless, and had Varma accomplished Satya without that track, Satya would have been even greater. Nevertheless, Satya is of high quality.

    Some sequences in Satya:

    1. Bhiku Matre in jail, to Satya

    Aey, amitabachchan …, bhai banna hai tereko, bhai banna hai..

    2. Bhau to lawyer Mule (or Mulay):

    Yeh Satya kya cheez hai ?

    3. Kallu maama to a builder who hasnt paid up:

    Apun kya Alibagh se aaya dikh raha hai (or something to that effect)

    There are many other subsequences that keep you glued.

    Only two songs in Satya are talked about (Goli maar bheje me and Sapne me milti hai), but the other two, Yeh mujhe kya ho gaya, and Tu mere paas bhee hai, are not bad either.

    OK, now that you have watched Satya, any other Indian gangster movie will be a sort of anticlimax.
    But yet, I recommend Company (released in 2002), and
    Ab tak Chappan (in 2004). You will surely not find these movies as good as Satya, but they are quite decent in their own right. So inevitable is a comparison with Satya that you will definitely pick holes in these movies. Yet, watch them.

    After Rangeela (1995), Satya (1998) and Company (2002), RGV hasnt made a movie that is anywhere near these.
    It will be a pity if Satya remains his best piece of work, and yet, thats not a bad choice for someone’s best piece of work.

    BTW, have you watched Rangeela ?
    If not, do it.

    When you are free and in a mood to watch good fare,
    watch 1. Chandni Bar and 2. Corporate. Responds:

    Yes, Satya had nice dialogs too.

    We’ll try to watch Company & Rangeela if Netflix has them.

    Just came out of the theatre (2:00PM EST) after watching Rab Ne Bana…

  3. aditya_k   December 12, 2008 at 7:23 am

    hazaaron khwaishein aisi is a brilliant film……chitrangada was hailed as smita patil reincarnated…..but she was so-so in her new film ‘sorry bhai’…..have you seen ‘joh jeeta wahi sikander’? or RGV’s ‘rangeela’? both are aamir khan flicks….. Responds:

    The three movies are on our list…

  4. navaraj   December 12, 2008 at 9:35 am

    Satya was one beautiful movie…..I like all Tabu movies as well – chandni bar, The Namesake….. i dont have the heart to watch cheeni kum b’coz of Amitabh Bachan. I have never liked his movies and have always felt that he doesnt know the meaning of “subtle”. Responds:

    Cheeni Kum was not bad.

    We love the title song….listened to it only a billion times so far.

  5. satya   December 12, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    This guy was once considered Quentin Tarantino of Indian cinema.

    Wait till you watch Company. Then you will be 100% sure that RGV is dead or has gone mental. Responds:

    If Netflix has Company, we’ll be sure to watch it.

  6. zed   December 12, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    yes i think you will love company, though i do think Satya is probably the best 1 ive seen in gangster flicks. have you seen vaastav?? classic movie. also try Parinda (anil kapoor and nana patekar)

    It just amazes me how a director can fall from that phase to what he’s throwing at us now. Responds:

    Will see Vaastav & Parinda if Netflix has them.

  7. Þórarinsdóttir   December 12, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    In Rangeela, Urmila’s dancing is plain horrible.. I had the misfortune of watching it last week. That movie was a beneficiary of ARR’s songs.. though not classics, they sounded awesome before wearing me out.

    The tamil original sounds better than this incarnation of the Cheeni Kum song.. in my opinion.. too much unwanted noise has been introduced into the new version. Responds:

    Are you sure there are two versions?

  8. Þórarinsdóttir   December 12, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    all songs are based on IR’s previous works.. Responds:

    Yes, Yes & Yes.

  9. IAmAnIdiot   December 12, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    Even a movie like Satya need to be recommend to you, GOD! What is the need to write a review for a movie atleast almost 20 core indians already watched almost 10 years ago? Like bathroom singing, is it a bathroom blog!!! Anyways idiot like me revisit this blog for cheap fun, you too can make money on Ads!!! Responds:

    Your comments match your user name.

    As we said at the outset of the Satya review, it was based on recommendation from several readers.

    Just like we pay attention to you (bet we are the only ones), we take what others say equally seriously.

  10. terraferrous   December 12, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    Danny Boyle (the director of Slumdog Millionaire) has mentioned three exceptional films from Bollywood…Satya, Company and Black Friday. Make it a point to watch the other two…they are unbelievably good.
    I am not sure if you guys will enjoy Rangeela. Responds:

    Watched Satya & Black Friday.

    Hope to watch Company soon.

    After the Rab Na Bana Di Jodi crap-show, we are hungering for a decent movie.

    Maybe, we’ll catch Slumdog Millionaire tomorrow.

  11. Vasan   December 15, 2008 at 5:00 am

    SI:It’s one of life’s great injustices that clowns like Abhishek Bachchan, Ajith, Salman Khan, Sanjay Dutt, Riteish Deshmukh et al torment us ad nauseum, ad infinitum in movie after movie but talented artistes like Manoj Bajpai and Chakravarthy end up as flotsam, relegated to the fringes of the Indian movie industry.

    I ask:WHAT HAPPEND TO “VIJAY”????!!! is he also not listed as the clown from tamil movies? You left him intentionaly or your admire his rat face? Responds:

    You write above: WHAT HAPPEND TO “VIJAY”????!!!

    Seems like you are under the delusion that we are ardent acolytes of Vijay. Here, read the Kuruvi and Azhagiya Tamil Magan reviews. Hopefully, that should clear the cobwebs in what passes for your head.

  12. gk   December 15, 2008 at 8:50 am

    I dunno whether Richard Corliss has seen satya….but ‘nayagan’ sure did catch his attention…..

  13. StrYngLad74   December 17, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    Did you guys see AB TAK CHHAPPAN yet? I think I recommended the movie to you a while back. It’s directed by Shimit Amin, but under RGV productions. Responds:

    Was in our Netflix queue..Moved it up to #1 now. Hopefully in a few days.

  14. Vasan   December 17, 2008 at 11:15 pm

    You write above: WHAT HAPPEND TO “VIJAY”????!!!

    SI:Seems like you are under the delusion that we are ardent acolytes of Vijay. Here, read the Kuruvi and Azhagiya Tamil Magan reviews. Hopefully, that should clear the cobwebs in what passes for your head

    Are you real a dumb ass? I never asked about his bad movies, I asked you why you left the name Vijay in that list. Responds:

    As usual, you make no sense. Scoot. Try reading your previous comment.

    Bet even you wouldn’t understand the rubbish you wrote.

  15. sganeshkumar1989   December 19, 2008 at 7:58 am

    While reading your Sarkar Raj’s and RGV Ki Aag’s review (Where you mentioned RGV as inept and clumsy director), I thot of recommending Satya, Shiva,Gayam (Telugu) as some good movies done by RGV in the past. Good that you wacthed Satya 😉 The problem with RGV looks like off-late he wants to repeat a failed experiment again and again till it succeeds :p , that’s the reason why he’s unsuccessfully trying to get an ideal clone of Godfather and also repeating the Govinda Govinda tunes (Which appeared in his disaster film Govinda Govinda) often, and that’s why he’s not get any good movie since Comapany! 😛 Responds:

    You write above: that’s why he’s not get any good movie since Comapany!

    We’re trying to get Company but there’s a Long Wait in Netflix, which most likely means we may never get it.

  16. bollywood_basher   December 25, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    you guys must watch “SHIVA”,one of the earlier RGV flicks, considered by many as technically brilliant. i think ‘Shiva’ is better than ‘Company’. Responds:

    You write above: you guys must watch “SHIVA”,one of the earlier RGV flicks, considered by many as technically brilliant.

    We wouldn’t mind watching Shiva (Netflix has it) but the scary part is that the movie features Nagarjuna.

    We watched this clown Nagarjuna in Zakhm a few months back and, hey, we are still reeling from the shock.

    The only good thing about Shiva is Amala.

  17. ajayrocks   August 22, 2009 at 11:50 am

    have u seen rgv’s another classic company starring and vidhu vinod chopra’s parinda starring nana,jackie shroff and anil kapoor?

    both are class gangster movies Responds:

    No, both on our list.

    Here’s one more–80

  18. vjcool   August 24, 2009 at 6:44 am

    have a look at Kshana Kshanam and Jungle.. decent fare from RGV Responds:

    Netflix doesn’t have both.

  19. Albert Camus   August 24, 2009 at 11:59 am

    added Shiva to the top of my netflix queue.. just for Amala.. Wondering why you haven’t watch Vertigo & Psycho yet.. they are on instant play. Responds:

    1. You write: added Shiva to the top of my netflix queue.. just for Amala..

    The sight of that fella Nagarjuna makes us see red. He’s the male equivalent of Nayantara. Utterly hopeless in the acting department. Watched him in Zakhm. The movie was alright but Nagarjuna was sick….we’re still recovering from the trauma.

    2. Will watch Vertigo tonight or tomorrow.

    You may have noticed that fairly recent Hindi movies like Jodhaa Akbar (Ash, Hrithik) and Saawariya (Ranbhir Kapoor, Sonam) are also on Instant Play?

  20. Albert Camus   August 24, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    yes, I did.. will watch Saawirya for sure.. I love Sonam too. Responds:

    We used to like Sonam but we’ve outgrown her. 😉

  21. Albert Camus   August 24, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    watching 45 year old MILF Mary-Louise_Parker on Weeds.. I think she is in your age group.. and superhot. Responds:

    1. Looked her up on Wiki…They’ve a picture too. Ugh.

    No, thanks. We’ll stick with that girl with the Jewish mother. She’s smokin hot. 😉

    2. You write: I think she is in your age group.

    In our not-so-humble opinion, your or rather our partner should be much older or much younger. Unpredictability then increases exponentially in the relationship. So much more fun.

    Your own age is boring.

  22. Albert Camus   August 24, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    Scarlett and I share the same birthday 🙂 We share it with Boris Becker. Responds:

    You write: Scarlett and I share the same birthday

    As long as that’s all you share, we’ve no complaints. 😉

    BTW, that makes for four Sagittarians.

  23. Dr. Lawrence Kutner   September 4, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    PSA: Shiva was awful.. this is my first Nagarjuna movie.. I think Vijay/Ajith are better actors.. he may have improved after this movie, but in this he was god awful.. and not surprisingly got a filimfare award.

    Amala looked anorexic.. not the cute, plumpy Amala that I used to like..

    wasted one rental 🙁

    the action was no doubt slick for those days (1990).. but the movie was a horrible. Responds:

    To describe Nagarjuna as an actor would be to do an enormous disservice to the English language.

    After watching Zakhm (Nagarjuna, Ajay Devgan, Pooja Bhatt), we concluded that this guy is a buffoon. Big time.

    What Amala saw in him, we’d like to know (desperately).

    Did you watch the Telugu or Hindi version? IMDB has it in both languages.

  24. Dr. Lawrence Kutner   September 4, 2009 at 11:35 pm

    it was the Hindi one.. apparently I was one of the first ones to rent it.. the DVD looked very new.. unlike the usual Desi scratched up ones. Responds:

    Most Netflix DVDs (>95%) are OK.

  25. bollyfan85   November 22, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    ahh Urmila Matondkar! I love her !!

    Why you are so down on her, I’ll never know! She has a lovely face, and while her performance in Satya doesn’t quite top her role in Pinjar and ek hasina thi (she was excellent in this one), she did a good job in this. Her chemistry with Chakravarthy is sweet, but he really shines when he’s on-screen with Manoj Bajpai. Responds:

    1. You write above: Why you are so down on her

    Boy, when ever did we go down on her. 😉

    2. You write: ahh Urmila Matondkar!

    That’s how we felt when she lifted her legs high, very high for the Rangeela Re song in Rangeela. 😉

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