SATYA

RGV’s Satya is the movie to watch. One of my favourites. I have watched Satya for number of times. And every time I thank RGV for making such realistic, earthy and hard-hitting film. Here is review of Satya by Khalid Mohammed published in Times of India. Found this review on another blog as mycinema.blogspot.com

SatyaReviewed by – Khalid Mohamed
Cast: Urmila Matondkar, Manoj Vajpayee, ChakravarthyDirector: Ram Gopal VarmaRating: ****
REJOICE. India’s answer to Quentin Tarantino is here. Indeed, someone has finally had the guts to go ahead and make a movie about and for our times. No diabetic sweetness, no pretentious pontificating, no foolish fantasy out here. Believe it or not, Ramgopal Varma belts it out straight, like a prize-boxer delivering a knockout punch. Clearly, the dumb-cluck Daud can be forgotten and forgiven. A fact-based report of a city under siege, Satya is alive and kicking. It broils, snaps and explodes with energy. The events (obviously condensed from the recent gang wars and bestial carnage on the streets of Mumbai) whizz past at a murderous clip, hurtling the viewer along almost demonically.
The back alleys, sleazy dens, pubs and chawls of the metropolis seethe with conflict. Killers crawl through the urbanscape like scorpions on a stove. When a gun battle erupts, it seems a logical climax for the crazy, tense, superheated atmosphere: desperate characters floating along on a sea of booze, sex and paranoia, watching a city collapse around them. The shocking daylight slaying of Gulshan Kumar, incessant gang reprisals, double-edged police ‘encounters’ and extortion threats have been deftly adapted into a searing, slice-of-life script by Saurabh Shukla and Anurag Kashyap. Throughout the lingo is correctly coarse and colloquial.
Mercifully, as in the case of Bandit Queen, the censors haven’t tinkered with the authentic dialogue. From the minute Satya (Chakravarthy), a man with no surname, arrives at VT railway station, we know he’s no pancake hero. An agnostic with no roots and family ties, he drifts into a hell of no return. Aligning himself with a caboodle of snarling, smiling, sweaty hoods, led by the cocky Bhiku Mhatre (Manoj Bajpai), the stranger finds a matchbox-sized room to live and brood in. That Satya is still capable of human emotion is underscored by his shy romance with Vidya (Urmila Matondkar), the innocent girl-next-door.
“Jo bhi item hai, bahut bhaari hai baap,” his cohorts cackle. But can love thrive in the time of relentless violence? The story moves between incidents which are simultaneously sordid and serene, this contradiction in terms building up to a finale that’s as volatile as it is heart-tugging. Without revealing the end, suffice it to say, it’s a zinger. The dramaturgy goes rancid briefly when Varma lets clouds of sentimentality deodorise the bracing cynicism and viciousness. It’s as if the director felt he had to pay for his audacity: sing a few hymns about family values (Vidya’s wheelchair-bound father is a cliched caricature) and hover needlessly over the breakfast table of the yoghurt-serving police commissioner. Also that first meeting between Satya and Vidya, in darkness because of a light-fuse, is a brazen lift from Satyajit Ray’s Pratidwandi. Such grouses aside, there’s plenty of food for thought.
Scenes like Bhiku Mhatre babbling after the extermination of one his gangboys, digs at American blockbusters a la Jurassic Park, Bhiku’s near-soliloquy at the beachside and Vidya’s police inquisition are just some of the passages that stay in the memory. Also of note is the police side of the story, with the commissioner (a fine cameo by Paresh Rawal) asserting loud and clear that the lawkeepers are caught in a Catch-22 situation: they’re damned if they clean up the city, and they’re damned if they don’t. However, the film’s trump card is its compassionate treatment of every character, great or small. The red-eyed, unkempt henchguys with their whiplash irreverence are exactly like the lumpen louts loitering around lethal lanes. Excellently photographed by Gerard Hooper and Mazhar Kamran, the Ganpati immersion shots and the overall lighting schemes are visually imaginative.
Lyrics by Gulzar (Baadalon se kaat kaat ke) and the evocative background score by Sandeep Chowtha are the other assets. Of the cast, co-writer Saurabh Shukla doubling up as the gang’s anchorperson is marvellously subtle, sportingly allowing others to steal the show. Ditto Chakravarthy, who’s gentleness personified, his anger simmering under the surface. Urmila Matondkar is first-rate, essaying even the most complex scenes with effortless grace and intelligence. And Manoj Bajpai, as the mercurial Mhatre, is brilliant. If we thought he was good in a minor role in Tamanna, here he attacks his meaty part in the manner of a hungry tiger. All said and savoured, Satya is a gritty, hellishly exciting film which stings and screams. No one will go away from it unprovoked or unmoved.

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