Ram Gopal Verma's DEPARTMENT (2012) WBRi Movie Review

Department 2012 Indian Hindi Movie Poster

Kolkata May 19, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio / Penning Creations) A line in the film goes: “Ek din Dharavi ke signal ke neeche mujhe woh hua jo Gautam Buddh ko hua tha – Sakshatkar”. This dialogue pretty much sums up Ram Gopal Verma’s ambitious project ‘Department’. If ‘sakshatkar’ is indeed realization, then under which tree should we make RGV sit to make him realize that he has totally and absolutely lost it? What has simply happened to the man who opened the doors of the Mumbai underworld to the Indian audiences through films like ‘Satya’ and ‘Company’?

Department (2012) Hindi Movie Trailer

From the ear splitting screeching of rubber car tires to the brain spluttering action sequences, RGV has taught us a lot. But ‘Department’ turns out to be a mere display of Ramu’s sycophantic obsession with the camera as at one point, it twirls and rotates behind the car’s steering wheel, while in the next reel, it sits formidably upon the striker on a carom board knocking coins into the pocket. After 155 minutes in the dark theatre, we are confused, befuddled and left with a strong migraine attack.

The movie is set in RGV’s favorite backyard – the Mumbai underworld where gang fights and encounters between the rogues and the cops is a daily matter. Frustrated by the antics of the underworld, the government decides to form an exclusive team known as ‘Department’ aimed at cleaning the big bad city of the mafia criminal lords. Not to mention that this encounter specialist team would work off the radar and would be headed by top cop ‘Mahadev Bhonsle’ (Sanjay Dutt). ‘Bhonsle’ ropes in a dedicated police officer by the name of ‘Shiv Narayan’ (Rana Daggubati) who would do anything for his country. With the addition of ‘Dhanajee’ (Deepak Tijori) and a couple of other ferocious-looking cops, the team sets out on its mission, traversing through the city’s underbelly shooting and gunning down criminals at sight. We are then introduced to the baddies in the film firstly the dhoti-worn ‘Sawatya’ (Vijay Raaz) shrieking at the top of his voice to his henchmen, secondly the gangster couple of ‘DK’ (Abhimanyu Singh) and ‘Naseer’ (Madhu Shalini) and thirdly and most importantly of all, the big bad gangster turned politician ‘Sarjerao Gaekwad’ (Amitabh Bachchan) who emerges as the puppet master controlling the threads in the film. ‘Padmini Bhonsle’ (Laxmi Manchu) comes across as Dutt’s wife and one of the only three female characters in the entire film. As the film crosses over the interval line and stalks towards the climax, we are pulled by RGV into more and more concentric and dynamic circles of gang war and cop infighting, with the main plot threads getting loosened in the process. Now if there are cop-rogue chases, there has to be a dose of entertainment as well. With Bollywood having found a new form of avatar of entertainment in the form of sleazy item numbers, ‘Department’ comes across as no exception with a raunchy Nathalia Kaur on one side and a bulky Ganesh Acharya on the other. Well, there are at least stark contrasts in physicality in the item numbers if not in the character portrayals. The movie ends on a climactic note with people in the theatre staring at each other’s faces and asking the very same question ‘Is it over? Are we done?’

It is indeed saddening to see a great filmmaker who enthralled and mesmerized the audiences with his captivating action sequences and inspiring dialogue deliveries sinking down to new lows with each film that he makes. If ‘Sarkar’ gave us the desi version of Francis Ford Coppola’s legendary film ‘The Godfather’, its sequel showed the prowess of Amitabh Bachchan, coming very much close to the acting factory of Marlon Brando. But all those times are gone and we are left with the likes of ‘Department’ that’s just wound around a weak plot and an array of actors who desperately try to deliver justice to their roles. While Sanjay Dutt’s weary and somnolent eyes overshadows his earlier powerful portrayal of ‘Kancha Cheena’ in ‘Agneepath’, Amitabh Bachchan’s specks of interspersed humor fail to widen our cheeks. As for the camera angles, it seemed quite alright in the first few reels of stylized and out-of-the-box filmmaking, but as the movie advanced, the eccentricities and the camera placing got more and more weirder, often with the very motive getting disturbed and tediously unnecessary.

Riding horse-back on a plot that’s fragile from the very first reel and dialogues that fail to create a punch among movie-goers, ‘Department’ comes out as another botched product from the RGV factory, giving the audience no consolation for having spent a little over 2 hours in the dark theater halls. Apart from the slick editing and lenient positive acting of Rana Daggubati, ‘Department’ has simply nothing to offer for moviegoers this weekend and is probably a portent of what’s yet to come from Ram Gopal Varma.