Cast: Rana Dagubatti, Sanjay Dutt, Amitabh Bachchan, Vijay Raaz, Abhimanyu Singh, Anjana Sukhani, Madhu Shalini
Director: Ramgopal Varma
If there’s a point to Ramgopal Varma’s Department, I’m afraid I missed it. There’s a good chance I might have been distracted by his relentlessly dizzy camera… Carrying on his fascination with the mafia, Varma looks at the dynamics and the inner workings of a special unit within the Mumbai police force created in the wake of increasing crimes by two factions of the underworld.
Sanjay Dutt plays Inspector Mahadev Bhosle, head of this team of sharpshooters that must work under the radar to weed out mafia elements from the city. Rana Dagubatti is Shiv Narayan, an upright cop and Bhosle’s right-hand man, who wins the favor of eccentric minister Sarjerao Gaekwad (Amitabh Bachchan) when he takes down a shooter who fires at the politico during a rally.
Varma’s gallery of rogues includes Vijay Raaz as shrieking don Savatiya, Abhimanyu Singh as DK, a hot-headed henchman in his team, and my personal favorite, a female gangster and DK’s squeeze (Madhu Shalini) who’s constantly licking her lips suggestively or sucking on kulfis when she isn’t advising DK to rebel against his boss.
Predictably, cops mix up with gangsters, cops betray cops, and politicians are discovered to be in cahoots with the underworld. It’s the same old story. Not known for subtlety, Varma gives us a blaring background score, an endless stream of high-decibel shootout scenes, and the now mandatory item song featuring a scantily-clad dancer gyrating amidst dozens of sweaty admirers.
The filmmaker, who famously employed a bunch of film school students to shoot the movie using small cameras positioned at odd places, indulges his quirk for gravity-defying angles. It works occasionally in the action scenes that appear more visceral now, but for the most part the bizarre camera movements give you a headache.
Just shy of two hours and thirty minutes, Department is tedious and boring and doesn’t have any of the originality of Satya and Company, or even the occasional tension of Sarkar. Dutt delivers his lines like he’s reading out the phone book, and Bachchan hams it up no end as the gangster-turned-minister. It’s only Rana Dagubatti who approaches the film with any earnestness whatsoever.
I’m going with one-and-a-half out of five for Ramgopal Varma’s Department. It’s a lazy, indulgent film that tests your threshold for pain.Abhimanyu Singh Amitabh Bachchan Anjana Sukhani Department IBNLive Madhu Shalini Rajeev Masand Ram Gopal Varma Rana Daggubati Reviews Sanjay Dutt Vijay Raaz