Mumbai: Cast: Puneet Singh Ratn; Anaika Soti, Mahesh Thakur, Aradhna Gupta
Director: Ram Gopal Varma
The Indian Express Rating: *
When ‘Satya’ came out, it changed the way Indian cinema did crime. Ram Gopal Varma borrowed liberally from the robust gangsta genre from Hollywood, and made it his own. He set his story in the dark mazes of Mumbai, and gave us a bunch of characters Indian cinema hadn’t seen. Mobsters who had lives and wives and weight issues. Who cracked jokes and killed people on orders from powerful unseen ‘bhais’.
If ‘Satya’ (1998) was about the foot-soldiers of the Mumbai mafia, ‘Company’, which came a few years later, was about the guys who pressed the buttons. I liked the latter better. It was cleaner, classier and sharper. But ‘Satya’ announced the arrival of Ramu, a director who had chutzpah and daring and was happy to go out on a limb in order to give us an intriguing view into the crime jungle that had hierarchies and lived by its own rules.
Many directors tried to copy RGV’s style, but he was the King Of Bollywood’s Omerta gang, just the way Bhiku Mhatre wanted to be the King Of Mumbai, in an unforgettable scene in the first film.
I flashbacked to that one as I began watching ‘Satya 2’, which in every way is as forgettable as the original was memorable. It is a disaster, not just as a sequel, but as a stand-alone, and it makes me nostalgic for the RGV that used to be.
This Satya (Ratn) zooms right up the scale—from a wet-behind-the-ears, tousle-haired rookie to a man who heads up a ‘Company’, the most confused conglomerate of crime and punishment to grace Bollywood– so fast that you wonder where that Ramu has gone, the guy who had a sense of plot development, and the unfolding of a story, and the placing of foot-tapping songs-and-dance. For a man who is made to scale up so quickly, Ratn is remarkably unremarkable as an actor. Not a dead loss, but nothing that your eye rests on, not the way, for example, Vivek Oberoi’s explosive Chandu, in ‘Company’. Or the wonderful Bhiku Mhatre-Manoj Bajpai in ‘Satya’.