The sequel to his own hit Sarkar (2005), a reworking of THE GODFATHER relocated to India, Ram Gopal Varma's crime thriller delivers the casting coup of Bollywood's royal family – Amitabh Bachhan, his son, Abhishek, and Abhishek's wife, Aishwarya Ray – onscreen together for the first time. But despite Varma's willingness to tackle serious issues like entrenched corruption and cozy relationships between government officials and unelected ward bosses, the result is overwrought and cliched.
Anglo-Indian developer Mike Rajan (Victor Banerjee) wants to build a power plant in a poor, rural part of Maharashta state, and hires shady fixer Hassan Qazi (Govind Namdeo) to handle local officials. Qazi tells him the primary obstacle is "sarkar" ("head honcho") Subhash Nagre (Amitabh Bacchan), a ruthless gangster. But while Subhash wields substantial behind-the-scenes influence over Maharashta politics and policies, his motives are fundamentally benevolent – to protects the interests of the poor and marginalized against rapacious businessmen and corrupt government ministers. Subhash rejects Rajan's plan because it would displace some 40,000 villagers, but his American-educated son and heir apparent, Shankar (Abhishek Bachhan), argues that the Sheppard Power Plant project'ts long-term benefits outweigh the short-term liabilities. Educated but naïve Anita Rajan (Aishwarya Rai), working with her father for the first time, sees the plant as a dream come true: It's good business that will benefit the general public, providing jobs and bringing power to an underserved region. She comes to India to help Shankar persuade both the villagers and his father, but they encounter strong resistance from politically ambitious activist Sanjay Somji (Rajesh Shringarpore) – reported modeled on real-life politician Raj Thackeray. The son of Subhash's mentor, Rao Saab (Dilip Prabhavalker), Somji uses fiery rhetoric to convince local farmers that the Nagres are in cahoots with Rajan and corrupt officials, and that all they want is to enrich themselves at the expense of the poor. The volatile situation eventually explodes into an orgy of rioting, betrayal, murder and revenge.
Though there are occasionally references to events from Sarkar, notably Shankar's murder of his black-sheep brother, there's no need to have seen the first film to follow SARKAR RAJ. The film's serious of intent is evident in the absence of musical numbers and Amitabh Bachhan's performance is outstanding, but the screenplay recycles gangster movie cliches that have been reworked so many times that it's have to make them feel fresh or vital.
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- Released: 2008
- Rating: NR
- Review: The sequel to his own hit Sarkar (2005), a reworking of THE GODFATHER relocated to India, Ram Gopal Varma's crime thriller delivers the casting coup of Bollywood's royal family – Amitabh Bachhan, his son, Abhishek, and Abhishek's wife, Aishwarya Ray – onsc… (more)