Movie Reviews

Department review


Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt, Rana Daggubati, Madhu Shalini, Lakshmi Manchu, Nathalia Kaur

Directed by Ram Gopal Varma

Rating: Minus One

RGV worshippers ready to throng multiplexes to catch this tickling thriller must be equally prepared to feature in an upcoming episode of ‘Satyamev Jayate’. This is because the ace filmmaker’s camera angles could leave them spooned, smooched, thumped to the ground and splashed under a water cooler. Infact RGV’s decidedly jerky camera takes us where no man, woman or Jadoo has ever been. From inside tea cups to the labyrinths of nostrils, from being tossed around as the striker on a carom board to being flung across the beach as a ball (this one gets you clinically dizzy). But in most cases, you end up on the floor pretty close to where your dignity is for picking this film. Abused? Yes. Amused? Unintentionally. Fist? Clenched.
The movie begins with the following prophetic words, ‘Power corrupts’. And while you mull over these two words which say a lot but nothing in particular, they’re trounced by another world conquering thought: ‘Absolute power corrupts absolutely’. While this is pure and simple math, they are referring to the magnitude of moral bankruptcy prevalent among politicians, gangsters and encounter cops. Surely something 500 movies haven’t concluded before!

Rana Daggubati in 'DepartmentIf you really must know, here’s how this film arrives at the above conclusion. An idealist cop, Shivnarayan (Rana Daggubati) is recruited into the encounter killing squad by the beefy and forever Ray-Ban-ed chief, Inspector Mahadev (Sanjay Dutt). Mahadev’s department has only one ‘maqsat’: underworld. No wonder the camera hardly captures anyone in the upper world!

Approximately 1500 gangsters (give or take a few) succumb to their trigger happy adventures while we endure a journey that takes us under tables, inside lungis and possible anywhere we would rather not be. Parallel story, Mumbai is terrorized by a unique don- Sawatya (Vijay Raaz). Despite his lanky frame and unintimidating demeanor, he commands the respect and allegiance of all, apart from his chief aides: DK (Abhimanyu Singh) and someone who is mostly referred to as Baby or something equally endearing and sleazy. These two are forever charged and choose to exhaust their unexplained angst by doing each other or indiscriminately firing at anyone and everyone: basically observing best practices of the underworld.

Then we have the gangster-turned-politician Sarjerao Gaikwad (Amitabh Bachchan) who hardly reinvents his iconic role from ‘Sarkar’. Only difference, here he seems to be on LSD. He loves quoting from mythological stories and his past epic epiphanies, neither of which leave you with any morals that you’d like to take home. Anyway, all the above mentioned find a way to be linked to each other and we eventually learn who is the bad guy with a golden heart and who is the god cop hiding a few secrets under his paunch.

The only appreciable thing about ‘Department’ is that it drifts away from one thing that is common in every gangster movie produced in Bollywood: it doesn’t morally question gangsters for their ganging operations nor does it celebrate that fact. There is another salute-able thing in the film: an erotica-infused item number by Nathalia Kaur. But to see her, you don’t have to go to the multiplex, just browse through this slideshow:
Nathalia Kaur in 'Dan Dan'
1 / 7
Thu 1 Mar, 2012 4:50 PM IST

Why veteran actors like Amitabh Bachchan and Sanjay Dutt chose to do this film is probably hidden at the bottom of a glass that contained something very toxic. While they manage their individual parts with little enthusiasm and lot of ease, there’s only as much that one can lend to a script like this. Rana Daggubati is promising and sharp but this film may not light up his career’s ‘batti’ nor ensure that he is packed off to the South. But one person who surely deserves to be deported from Bollywood is our very once-revered RGV. Verma was the first to do a lot of things in Hindi films and it paid off too. But now it just seems like a desperate wet dream to surprise and shock which manages only to annoy and disgust.

Among the supporting cast, the character playing Abhimanyu Singh’s love interest who might come across as a poor man’s Nisha Kothari, deserves a special mention. While there are many reasons, to point out one, it would have to be the slow and steady insertion and withdrawal of a kulfi stick from her mouth. Also, Deepak Tijori was a welcome blast from the past. Only problem is that when he was first wearing kohl in his eyes, he was an under-disguise encounter cop. But later in the film, he seemed to have embraced this cosmetic embellishment for good. So much for characterization?

Braving this 132-minute brain-jerker just to learn how politicians, cops and the underworld are interwoven enough to share the same 'department' may be a futile cause. But then, how many films allow you to experience the perspective of a flea, a very enthusiastic midget and a pervert - all for the price of one multiplex ticket? IMDB recent RGV films for the answer.

You can reach me at or connect with me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter

More reviews:

Ishaqzaade review

Dangerous Ishhq review

Tezz review

You might also like:

Rana can’t be romantic

Meet Ramu's new muse

AB-Sanju rock the shaadi

Based on departmental conflicts

Watch trailer: