Sarkar 3 reiterates what one has increasingly realised in recent years. Amitabh Bachchan is probably Bollywood’s only superstar who actually does not need hits to sustain that stature.
Ram Gopal Varma’s new film will not be a hit. It has opened to dismal figures all over India, garnering around 10 per cent occupancy on day one, with the continuing monster run of Baahubali 2 gulping down any prospect of success.
Big B’s position, however, will not falter despite the film’s poor run — it remains unfazed as it was after the disaster Te3n or the success of the primarily female-centric Pink.
Superstars of his generation — Dharmendra or Jeetendra are obvious examples — have long stepped off the limelight. No other Bollywood actor, at nearly 75, has the power to command release of a mainstream film touting him in a title role. For all the film’s flaws, he has given the Sarkar franchise its third release now and, subject of Big B’s health, one would not be surprised if RGV belted out Sarkar 4 in a while.
Big B made a difference in the success of the primarily female-centric Pink.
The irony about that situation lies in the fact that Sarkar 3, despite its lukewarm show, brings the actor back in his angry avatar — his superstardom does owe itself to playing angry young man all through the seventies and the eighties.
Perhaps that is where Sarkar 3 failed. For all his glory days, the Hindi audience, barring hardcore fans, is perhaps not in the mood to watch Big B in angst-ridden moods anymore. A quick look at Big B’s career lately reveals his most interesting roles have been ones that let him move away from the larger-than-life angry image of yore (think Piku or Shamitabh).
Roles that have let him be more human on screen, and cater to the urban multiplex crowds, are the ones that sustain his position as a superstar among actors younger than his son.
A quick look at Big B’s career lately reveals his most interesting roles have been ones that let him move away from the larger-than-life angry image of yore Photo: Shamitabh
These are roles that do not bank on 100-crore box-office basics for recognition. Rather, these films merely work at reminding us that acting powerhouse Amitabh Bachchan, onetime larger-than-life hero of masala drama, can smoothly fit into Bollywood mainstream’s newfound passion for realism.
Sarkar 3 was trying to reverse this process. The film was trying to take Bachchan back to his stock image of the past. The idea has worked twice before after all, when RGV served us Sarkar and Sarkar Raj.
The problem this time is RGV’s form. Since the time he made Sarkar Raj in 2008, the filmmaker has clearly run out of ideas. Sarkar 3 may be RGV’s most decent effort in a while (which is not saying much), but it is certainly the worse of the Sarkar franchise till date. For all the intense close-ups the sequel accords to its hero, it lets Big B down at the script level.
Big B’s position, however, will not falter despite the film’s poor run — it remains unfazed as it was after the disaster Te3n.
That is a reason why despite liberally putting to use Big B’s gravitas, RGV does not manage to hold our interest with Sarkar 3. The sequel is merely a rehash job rolling in all that worked in the past two films, and the audience is not impressed.
What has impressed the audience, though, is Big B’s essaying of Subhash Nagre. Mixing baritone with silence, he gives the fans the reason to sit through an otherwise forgettable two-hour experience.
Big B’s next major release will be Dhoom 3 maker Vijay Krishna Acharya’s Thugs Of Hindostan, an extravagant masala carnival slated for a Diwali 2018 release. The film also stars Aamir Khan, Katrina Kaif, and Aamir’s Dangal find Fatima Sana Sheikh, which means Amitabh Bachchan returns to the familiar safety zone of multistarrers.
He will find a way to stand out amid a packed superstar cast, as he did with aplomb in the seventies.