'Department' (Hindi, Telugu)
Director: Ram Gopal Varma
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt, Rana Daggubati, Abhimanyu Singh and Madhu Shalini
As a police team holds an important meeting to discuss strategies to eliminate the mafia, a camera zooms into the legs of one of the leads, slowly moving up his trousers and finally settling at his tea-stained moustache. Stretch this scene for two hours and what you get is Ram Gopal Varma’s latest offering, ‘Department’.
In a nutshell, ‘Department’ is a rehash of numerous underworld Bollywood movies till date. Mahadev Bhosle (Sanjay Dutt) forms a team of hardworking officers called ‘Department’ in order to eliminate the mafia menace in Mumbai. Along with new recruit, Shiv Narayan (Rana Daggubati), the team embarks on what seems to be the orders of the government.
However, it is only after Narayan meets gangster- turned-politician Sarjerao Gaikwad (Amitabh
Bachchan) that he realizes that each person is working with a hidden personal agenda and everything is not as it seems to be.
Scriptwriter Nilesh Girkar’s story is riddled with loopholes and frankly doesn’t have much to offer. But you never really come close to understanding the storyline as you are busy massaging your head from the vertigo-inducing camera work.
The director brings his trademark style of weird camera angles and I don’t remember a single scene where I could see an entire person on screen – it’s either his armpit, leg or the cup of tea he is drinking. When you have 150 minutes of revolving camera work, there’s hardly anything that is going on onscreen you can understand.
The jarring and off-tune background score adds to the torture. Though the soundtrack by Dharam
Sandeep, Bappi Lahiri and Vikram Nagi is good, it is marred by their inappropriate placement. Where performances are concerned, Sanjay Dutt does a good job of portraying his grey character with ease.
Rana Daggubati, who has not been dubbed, unfortunately, has nothing much to offer except fight after fight. His monotonous expressions and diction leaves much to be desired.
If there is someone who impresses in the movie, it is Amitabh Bachchan. In the chaos that makes up ‘Department’, he manages to make even his silly, under-sketched character, highly entertaining and that is the only saving grace in this film.
The ladies get a very bad deal with Anjana Sukhani as Daggubati’s girlfriend and Lakshmi Manchu as Dutt’s wife hardly getting any screen space. The perverse nature of the camera strikes again, as newcomer, Madhu Shalini, who pays a female gangster and the much-talked about item girl, Nathalia Kaur, have the camera focusing from really obscene angles. For someone with gems like ‘Satya’, ‘Company’ and ‘Bhoot’, this is just a headache-causing flick in the name of innovative filmmaking.
Even Aspirin might not help.