Cinema has the power to shock you, but Ram Gopal Varma takes that quite literally in Satya 2. In one particularly gruesome scene, a burkha-clad woman wielding an electric drill directs the weapon towards a rapist’s crotch, and blood splatters everywhere. This is Varma’s idea of the new underworld, where citizens play vigilantes, forming an anonymous ‘company’ that strikes fear in the hearts of the rich and the powerful. The mastermind behind this nameless crime enterprise is Satya (newcomer Puneet Singh Ratn), a man who deliberately keeps his background a secret so he cannot be caught.
The film traces the journey of this bespectacled everyman who comes to Mumbai with a chilling plan to redefine the underworld. “My company will have no name, but the product it’ll deal in is fear,” he tells construction magnates who bankroll his daring plan to assassinate a top industrialist, a police commissioner, and a media baron all in one day. Satya recruits those who are disillusioned with the system, including a former encounter cop, but keeps a low profile so even his wife and his closest friends have no idea what he’s up to. One of these friends is a skimpily clad starlet named ‘Special’, who is so unremarkable that you wonder how she acquired that name.
To be fair, somewhere buried in this muddled film there is an interesting idea of why citizens are forced to stand up for themselves. Through sweeping top shots, we see a metropolis bursting at the seams and rotting with neglect. But the film goes downhill as Satya turns into a messiah, rectifying the system’s injustice and giving us mind-numbing speeches in an expressionless monotone. Leading man Puneet in fact is one of the chief reasons the film doesn’t work. He delivers a labored performance and appears to have the emotional range of a plank of plywood. As is a staple in Varma’s films, there is a motley crew of singularly unattractive characters, including a disfigured, bald henchman whose chief purpose is to stare straight into the camera.
Comparisons are odious, but when you title a film after your best work yet, who is to blame? Varma’s seminal 1998 film Satya redefined the underworld genre, and while Satya 2 may not be his worst film, it has no resemblance to that exciting, clutter-breaking gem.
Many, many times during this overlong film, we hear that the underworld company formed by the protagonist is just a thought, and not an actual entity that can be snuffed out by the cops. Much in the same vein, Satya 2 is not so much an engaging film as it is an interesting idea that Varma squanders away with a hackneyed script, and an ensemble of over-actors.
I’m going with one-and-a-half out of five for Ram Gopal Varma’s Satya 2. We’ve been waiting for a film that gives us a fresh take on crime in the city. Sadly, this is not that film.