Ram Gopal Verma has long since been experimenting with middle-budget movies( Not a love story, Phoonk, Raktacharitra etc) and this time round he does one better(in a sense) by taking in an entire cast of unknowns and framing an underworld story around them.
It would have been a great way of making a film if only he had managed to get his script right. It's all very well to tap into the common man's angst and use that to drive a story about an underworld company that is so omnipotent that it continues to exist even after its main players are obliterated.
It's quite clear that the driving force behind this constipated idea is the overwhelming need to keep himself in the game churning out films based on his pet topic without getting all in a loop over cost. The sad part is that despite the economics of that strategy it doesn't always pay off -mainly because the creatives don't live up to the demands of that peculiar ideology.
Designed as a sequel to RGV's very first mainstream attempt to glorify the underworld (Satya), this film in no way resembles that memorable effort. In fact 'Satya 2' has nothing to do with 'Satya' other than the fact that it also deals with the same subject -the underworld, and happens to have a small town radical transforming himself into one of the most powerful dons in the mega polis that is Mumbai.
Radhika Anand's script should in fact come in for most of the flak here. There is absolutely no consistency in either the visual imagination or the narration. To add to that there's a contrary script to the narration by theatre thespian and sometimes filmmaker/actor Makarand Deshpande.
Add to that a bunch of unknown entities in lead roles and conviction becomes a major casualty. Radhika Anand's script in fact skirts around reality, imagining a righteous agenda for a subterranean terror group fuelled by latent angst but without the actual mechanics of that formation being evident.
Satyaprakash(Puneet Singh Ratn) is a brilliant strategist much like the protagonist of 'Ender's game,' except that the former is in his mid-twenties and looks too vacant to be accepted as a suitable cover for criminal brilliance. That's probably because of inappropriate casting and an underachieving performance by the lead actor. Never mind that .Satya . a small towner transplants himself in the big bad city of Mumbai because of a mystery that neither he nor the filmmaker wants to reveal till way past midpoint of the runtime. Not that that forced mystery makes the first 70 mins of the narration any more interesting. Once in Mumbai Satya catches up with his aspiring filmmaker friend Naara and also finds work with a major builder (Mahesh Thakur).
Satya's keen mind and willingness to adapt to any requirement asked of him, gets him into a position of indispensability and his ambition begins to grow beyond all proportion- to the extent that he convinces several bigwigs to invest in a Company that seems all up in the air. He keeps harping on the fact that it's an idea and its structure will be a secret that no one will ever glean. As an audience it's difficult to suspend your disbelief and get involved in what transpires on screen thereafter.
Satya dresses against type, has wavy long hair and wears rimless glasses to cover his vacant look. His formula for a new 'Company' is one that involves creating a sense of fear amongst the rich while using the poor (aam aadmi) to share in the dirty work. His ladylove Chitra(Anaika) hangs on to him tight , pouting right through her limited engagement with a weirdly angled camera. Likewise Special (Aradna Gupta), Naara's girlfriend/aspiring starlet, who looks pretty but has precious little to do in the scheme of things. Tiresome song, clueless performances and furtive unsubstantiated narration doesn't allow for much involvement. Explicitly stupid dialogues also end up ruining the experience.
But there are a few moments in the film where you do feel empathetic and that is only because RGV manages to strike hard on sentiment, replete with hyper-ventilating musical orchestration. Debutant Puneet, as an introverted non-flamboyant don has presence but his invocation of fear is entirely listless and intangible. The other actors in this high-faluting plot are worse off. Even a thespian in comparision, Mahesh Thakur fails to make a strong mark.
There's just a little too much randomness and implausibility to make this one stick. RGV's trademark camera angles, close-ups and fervent chants (as part of the often hyper-ventilating background score) doesn't add any likeability to the enterprise.
It's certainly not something one would expect from the ace filmmaker who made some of the most memorable films based on the underworld, in Bollywood. But then, the way RGV has been fit-starting with compromised filmmaking of late, it doesn't come as much of a surprise anymore, either!
Rating: * *