A Wasted Effort
This has been a year of reunions. Directors and actors coming together for second, third or even a sixth time (take Mani Ratnam and Arvind Swami). A.R. Murugadoss and Vijay’s third collaboration after acclaimed films such as Thuppakki and Kaththi makes you wonder if third time is no longer a charm. Sarkar is Vijay’s vehicle. He wants to enter politics and what better way to do so. Sarkar should have been an effective movie, but, it fails to make an impact. Take the scene where Vijay launches into a well-written monologue after the public hurls tomatoes at him. I wanted more of those scenes. Even the scene where he takes his family to a nearby hospital and tells them of the fates suffered by the patients could have been a great scene, if only it were less preachy. Back in December 2015, several American political commentators wondered if Ivanka Trump was the brains behind her father, the presidential candidate. Sarkar offers a glimpse of that too. The Chief Minister’s daughter is thousands of miles away and dictates to her father and his cronies on what they must do. Varalakshmi Sarathkumar’s character, Komalavalli sounds good on paper, but, it isn’t captivating on film. It’s not that Varalakshmi isn’t a convincing actor, the film revolves around Vijay. He is the center of the Sarkar universe. He is the sun, if you will. This best explains the shades of yellow and gold that accompanies Vijay in the film.
With Sarkar, A.R. Murugadoss solves another problem: how do we introduce a heroine without wasting time on a needless subplot? Keerthy Suresh’s Nila already knows Vijay’s Sundar Ramaswamy. His brother married her sister and now they’re getting divorced. I wondered if the lead characters will work things out with their siblings, but that isn’t what Sarkar is about. Sure, Keerthy Suresh has to fall in love with the protagonist. The love angle is unconvincing. Sometimes you wonder if a romantic subplot is necessary in movies like Sarkar. Time is money, and every second wasted on Keerthy Suresh’s lovey-dovey glances is a test of patience.
The 49-P subplot is brilliantly written and executed. The first half moves with conviction. But, Sarkar loses its Midas touch somewhere in the midst of Sundar’s political rallies. A.R. Rahman’s songs are plain vanilla as only Simtaangaran holds water. Even the fight scenes – which are essential to Vijay’s films – fail to excite you. The first two fight scenes are just a series of slo-mo and sped up shots. Remember the coin fight in Kaththi? There’s nothing inventive here.
Sarkar, in Vijay’s eyes is a launch pad for his political aspirations. However, his trust in A.R. Murugadoss may have blinded his ambitions. Sarkar will remain a movie that should have been better, but isn’t.