3 July 2001 | shardik
The one truly great Hindi film of the 1990s
I am not a big fan of Hindi films - infact I'm not a fan of commercial Hindi films at all. But then there's Satya, Ram Gopal Varma's classic 1998 Indian mafia fan is brilliant, innovative and despite certain directorial flaws is nonetheless so vastly different from the run of the mill Hindi films (ie. 99% of Hindi films) that it is unforgettable. It is 175 minutes long, the typical duration, but it grabs you instantaneously as you follow the journey of Satya who comes to Mumbai to make a life for himself.
Before getting into a long winded review, I shall just point out a few plusses and minuses of this great movie. The minuses are minor and are nothing compared to the mishaps in a normal hindi film.
Plusses: - Manoj Bajpai, Manoj Bajpai and lastly, Manoj Bajpai. This is probably the single best acting performance by an Indian in the 90s. The realism and flawlessness he brings to the role is amazing. He does to go a bit over the top, but without losing any of his characters identity (hell, Pacino has been doing it for years now). - The rest of the cast. Urmila is incredibly refreshing as the innocent girl next door with the usual handicapped Dad and perennially miserable Mom. Saurabh Shukla as Kalu Mama is brilliant and comes quite close to Bajpai performance-wise. The realism he brings is equally breathtaking. Just seeing the scene where he, Bajpai and Govind Namdeo (Bhau) literally makes you a member of the gang, standing there and smiling along with them. - The plot is largely excellent. - (see weakness #2) Golimaar and Sapne Me are hilarious musical numbers
Now for two minor flaws: - Ram Gopal Varma's directorial synchronization of music and plot is often out of sync. A classic example is during the scene after the gangland shootout (when Kalumama first sees Vidya and Satya). There are certain other flaws as well in his direction as well. - Barring numbers from classic Hindi films (known for their music), I have never been even a remote fan of Hindi film singing and dancing. I feel three out of five songs in this movie are totally unnecessary and I would've enjoyed an "all-out" realistic film for a change w/o any songs. Having said that, the film is all the more memorable due to the two main numbers: Goli Maar and Sapne me milti hai - mainly due to Bhiku's gang and their histrionics.
All in all a refreshing Hindi film that made me a part of the main gang for the three hour duration and left me wanting more. I hope this inspires a revival of GOOD hindi films as was in the late 70s and early 80s.