Producer: Ram Gopal Varma
Director: Ram Gopal Varma
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt, Rana Daggubati, Nathalia Kaur, Lakshmi Manchu, Anjana Sukhani, Deepak Tijori, Madhu Shalini
Music: Dharam-Sandeep, Bappa Lahiri, Vikram Nagi
What do kids do when they get a new toy? Well, they experiment with it. What does a director who is known to be a genius technician do when he’s given a new camera? He inevitably experiments and raises the bar. But innovating while making a movie is no child’s play. In the case of Department, director Ram Gopal Varma is obviously so besotted with his new camera that he forgets he’s actually making a movie.
All through the film, Varma toys with shots. This, along with his penchant to shoot with odd camera angles makes you almost giddy as you try to keep your eyes on the screen. If only the director, once known as a maverick filmmaker who changed the norms of Indian cinema, paid attention to the script and the way it had been written.
This film also gives the impression that RGV is stuck between the cinema he’s known to make and commercial cinema. At times, you feel this film is aimed at the masses and at other times, that Varma has reverted to ‘his’ type of cinema. This constant flux suggests that Varma is struggling and confused, with the result that Department has turned into a wishy-washy affair.
There’s nothing new about the premise of the film. There’s nothing new about the way it has been written. There’s nothing new about how it has been presented. There’s nothing new about the action scenes. There’s nothing new about anything in this film! Tragically, a filmmaker once regarded as an ‘intellectual’ director who gave even the thinking audience a run for their money, has obviously lost his touch.
The film is about a game of one-upmanship between the guru and his chela. Both of them work in the same department. Rana Daggubati is suspended and Sanjay Dutt is asked to set up a department that will nail the underworld. But Dutt knows what Daggubati is capable of and so he asks him to join his team, who have no choice but to follow his instructions and beliefs.
Daggubati respects Dutt and falls in line. Enter Amitabh Bachchan (an underworld ganglord-turned- politician), who makes Daggubati see the thin line between his belief in Dutt and the truth. It’s the beginning of a cat-and-mouse game between Dutt and Daggubati. What follows forms the crux of the film.
The film starts with a bang, with the introduction of Daggubati followed by his suspension. This is followed by a fight sequence featuring Dutt. But soon, you realise the film doesn’t deliver what you were hoping to see. It also begins to drag. Now a string of disjointed scenes in a comedy is acceptable as most of these films lacks a story line and depends on gags and punches. Not an action film. And this is where the film disappoints.
There are several unnecessary scenes and most of the actors are forced to deliver over-the-top performances, especially Vijay Raaz. Why do they shout instead of just speaking? Then there’s the string of songs. Neither are they good nor are they well picturised. Most of them were just not needed. The item song in the pub picturised on Nathalia Kaur is an example of the cheapest choreography one has seen in years. As for the scene where the camera zooms in on Madhu Shalini scratching her thigh is abominable.
Not only does RGV fail in the story-screenplay-dialogue department, he flops with execution as well. Background music doesn’t offer anything. Music is pathetic. So are the lyrics. In a nutshell, this film disappoints in every department of filmmaking except performances.
But here too, only Amitabh Bachchan and Sanjay Dutt impress. Rana Daggubati fails to emote and his dialogue delivery is weak. He’s only good in action scenes, where performance doesn’t matter. Vijay Raaz and Abhimanyu Singh are only shown shouting. Their ‘performances’ only irritate! And why on earth is Madhu Shalini making faces and wearing weird expressions? Anjana Sukhani looks old and is average. Laxmi Manchu is all right. Deepak Tijori makes his presence felt.
Verdict: D for Department, D for Disappointment