If Thor, with all his might, banged his hammer on my nether regions, the pain would still be mild compared to the cataclysmic, apocalyptic agony of watching Satya 2.
Packed with catatonic acting, cheap sets, tacky songs, hilarious drama and more GoPro action than you can digest, Satya 2 is yet another nail in Ram Gopal Varma’s professional coffin, or another laurel in his filmmaking wreath, depending on your cinema sensibility. If you take the original Satya and eliminate every visible aspect of filmmaking know-how, you’d still get a better movie even if it is very similar to this quasi-sequel.
One of the most challenging and intriguing things about Satya was its writing. The plotting was so concise and the lines and the characters seamlessly connected with the neo noir direction that launched a whole new genre of cinema in India. Satya’s style became the backbone of dozens of crime thrillers, sadly Bollywood rehashed the formula to increasingly turgid results and this shameless and bungling sequel is the latest example.
The spectacularly untalented Puneet Singh Ratn stars as the titular character, a mysterious young man who lands up in Mumbai with a plan of one day ruling it. After getting a taste of some money and making connections with shady people, he embarks on his spree of plotting, laundering, manipulating and murdering – all to establish a social context of crime lords being more humanitarian and effective than the government.
With the synopsis out of the way, I struggle to figure out where to begin describing the film. Let’s start with writer Radhika Anand who seems to have been hustled into letting RGV direct her script. I find it impossible to believe that Ms. Anand would pen a slutty female character named ‘Special’ who bends over and whispers ‘Mera naam Special hone ki ek bahut badi kahaani hai’, so I assume she wrote a good story treatment, which the venerable RGV promptly mangled into his own trademark Penthouse-like script.
Remember the memorable acting, awesome camerawork, gritty frames, Bhiku Matre and all the stunning thrills like the movie theater bust out from the original Satya? Yeah, all that stuff is not in this sequel. The Mumbai underworld concept is given casual lip service in the beginning, and for some moronic reason, Satya 2 simply reuses scenes from the original film, Company, D, Sarkar, Bhindi Bazaar and countless other D-company movies made over the past ten years. It’s very unsettling to see the self-references RGV makes in Satya 2 – he does it in a grotesque manner, assembling all his previous glorious creative outputs together in an outlandish horrifying design, and watching the film really does feel like stepping inside the mind of a demented man.
The golden rule of RGV cinema abides – every other scene is shot with a GoPro camera in horrendous resolution, with psychotic camera angles that have literally no bearing on the story and plot. At times RGV channels his inner Gaspar Noe and shoots scenes with a camera attached to a toy helicopter flying over buildings. Instead of panning, the camera jerks around, moving clumsily and hilariously like a clumsy ghost. Adding to the visuals is the famous RGV-branded ‘Govinda Govinda’ dramatic reaction music that kicks in every time something remotely dramatic happens. If RGV directed your life, every time you pick up your toothbrush or sip water or tie your shoelace, loud blaring percussion would suddenly roar around you.
I’m positive that RGV and his casting director deliberately set out to find the worst possible cast on the face of the planet because the performances here are unreal. Even if Anaika Soti and Aradhna Gupta had never seen a camera before in their lives, and even if Mahesh Thakur was injected with a gallon of LSD, and even if the lead Puneet Singh were actually a doorknob with drawings of eyes and ears on it, the acting would still be higher in quality than what we get to see in Satya 2. After a point it is heartbreaking to see these guys ham, tumble, and wrestle with their facial muscles for two and a half hours.
RGV seemingly has no qualms about having his name dragged through the dirt. With Phoonk, Agyaat, Dongala Mutha, Not a Love Story, Department, 26/11 and now Satya 2, it is clear that he loves to revel in the ineptness of his movies, like it’s a badge of honour to be called India’s worst working film director. He’s clearly here to stay and in no hurry to make a good film.
(First published in Firstpost)