He may be petulant and forthright to the point of grating but Ram Gopal Varma has few equals in Bollywood when it comes to creating great cinema.
And Varma is back this week, doing what he does best, with his latest release, ‘Department’: a film that’s been dogged by controversy, financial difficulties and even a lawsuit or two but one which promises to join the long list of classic RGV blockbusters such as ‘Satya’, ‘Company’ and ‘Sarkar’.
Varma has always been obsessed with the various and nefarious ‘institutions’ that dominate life in his country: from the mob to the police to the government. That obsession continues with Department: specifically the Mumbai police department and the notorious ‘encounter’ squads who contrive to gun down suspected criminals instead of wasting on such frivolities as the due process of law.
The film was reportedly shot using a number of handheld Canon D5 cameras, giving the picture a certain grittiness that has become Varma’s hallmark. Insiders say the action is epic with gore galore.
Aside from an intriguing story line involving gangsters, politicians, cops and a power struggle, Department also boasts a fantastic cast. After months celebrating the birth of his granddaughter, opening IPL 5 and settling the debts of dozens of farmers in Andhra Pradesh, Amitabh Bachchan returns to the big screen as Sarjerao Gaikwad, a Machiavellian gangster-politician who alternates between roles according to the circumstances.
Sanjay Dutt, most recently seen stealing scenes in Agneepath, plays police inspector Mahadev Bhosle, the leader of an encounter squad. Hot young thing Rana Daggubati plays inspector Shivnarayan; a man who looks particularly fetching in a police uniform and is an encounter specialist. The exceptionally talented Vijay Raaz plays Mumbai don Sawatya.
The action-packed thriller will hit cinemas May 18th.
- Poonam Joshi