(Thanks to Guruprasad.S, Satya, Zaid, Viswajithkn & other readers of the SearchIndia.com 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.
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 fromÂ 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.
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,Â 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).
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 theÂ freakshow of 2008 – Dasavatharam.
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.