The gothic gloom which pervaded the Nagre household in Ram Gopal Varma’s Sarkar(2005) and Sarkar Raj(2008) has darkened in Sarkar 3. The only happy thing in the house is the framed photo of a smiling Shankar (Abhishek Bachchan), the younger son of Subhash Nagre, aka Sarkar(Amitabh Bachchan), who was killed in part II. With his wife Pushpa (Supriya Pathak) sick and bed-ridden, Sarkar is pretty much the last man standing, or rather sitting in his drawing room sofa pouring his tea on a plate sipping it with relish. We get repeated close-ups of a life size model of a bull-dog (signifying, perhaps, loyalty), which looks like a gargoyle in the flashes of lightning that enters from the window on a rainy night.
Sarkar 3 would’ve been a far more engaging watch had Varma focused on this aspect of his lead character—a brooding, ageing, tragic anti-hero figure refusing to give up so and stick to his principle: of doing the right thing without the care of the law. It would have been a natural progression from the first two films which saw The Godfather-like Sarkar at the peak of his powers and the inevitable disintegration of his family.
Instead, Varma gives us one recycled trope after another from Sarkar and Sarkar Raj and of numerous other films of the genre that have come before the series. New enemies—among them Govind Deshpande(Manoj Bajpai), a local politician with a connect with the grassroots who abhors Sarkar and Gandhi(Bajrangbali Singh), a shady businessman with a proposal for Sarkar—gang up against him. The entry of a young, new family member as a possible scion to Sarkar’s dynasty: Shivaji/Chiku(Amit Sadh), Sarkar’s grandson from his elder son Vishnu, the Sonny to Sarkar’s Don Corleone. A rat in the group—it could be one of his men, the seemingly solid Gokul (Ronit Roy) who is insecure about Shivaji’s arrival; either of the two could be plotting behind his back. There is a possibility that Shivaji may be sleeping with the enemy’s daughter (Yami Gautam), a plot-point repeated from part I.
The movie doesn’t feel as much an organic follow-up to Sarkar Raj—probably the last time the Varma tasted some success—as much a lazy attempt by a creatively bankrupt director to revive his career.
It could’ve still worked had Varma exercised the control over the medium he used to have. Here scenes don’t segue into the next and menacing lines sound comical; when Gandhi wants to threaten Sarkar, he tells him, “Love you” and the Sadh character, at one point, declares, “Main shero ka raja hoon(I’m the king of lions)”.
Since it is hard to take Sarkar 3 seriously, relief comes in the form of a track that revels in its randomness. It has Jackie Shroff, in his most entertaining turn since his polio retake video. He plays Michael Vallya (a riff on Vijay Mallya), a businessman with criminal connections in Mumbai.
For most of his screen-time, he is chilling by terrace-top swimming pools in what looks like Dubai with a dumb-blonde arm-candy and saying things like “The problem with laddoo is that it is too sweet.” The audience I watched it with greeted the scenes featuring Shroff with hoots and claps. It is telling of the audience’s loss of faith in the man who once made some of our grittiest and most entertaining crime movies.