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Satya (1998) 2h 51min

October 19th, 2007 by Maxim · 1 Comment · 7,402 Views


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This dramatic film was directed Ram Gopal Varma, who had a long career in Bollywood.

The plot: Satya (J.D. Chakravarthi) is a good-natured man, an orphan, who through a series of bad decisions and bad luck ends up in Bombay jail where he meets a gangster Bhiku Mhatre (Manoj Bajpai). The two become friends. Without work prospects and disillusioned about the law, Satya joins the gang, and thanks to his loyalty quickly raises to the top of the gang. But he falls in love with a girl neighbour, Vidya (Urmila Matondkar). At some point he can no longer lie to her about who he is.

Apart from a bunch of long songs typical for Bollywood movies that I could not relate to, the film is shockingly realistic. Why turn a drama into a musical? I assume it’s just a part of the tradition. At almost three hours, in my opinion, this film would only benefited if the songs melodrama was cut. Can’t say the same of the background score by Sandeep Chowta – it was great: dramatic and moving.

The film sends a Gandhian message that violence only leads to more violence and that those who choose to use violence, gangs and guns to make their living do hurt a lot of people, but they may just get hurt as badly, and their living is not much of a life. It also shows how, unlike in “Godfather” trilogy where people seems to be born into the crime world, under certain conditions people may chose (or have little choice) to take a gun in their hand. In this case it looks like the system turned him into a criminal because Satya was angry at the law, the system, for ending up in jail with no guilt. Satya is a very complex character, not black and white, and the borderline between good and bad is not always clear, which makes this movie so interesting and realistic.

Manoj Pajpai is very talented. His is a supporting role but he has so much weight in this film he becomes a main character and Sayta sort of revolves around him.

Satya was a great character. He was always calm, if not calm then thinking clearly except in the last scene, loyal and even after all the murders he committed, he always remains a victim of the system and circumstances.

“My tears for Satya are as much as for people that he killed”
    – Ram Gopal Varma

For this film, Urmila Matondkar’s won Best Actress award for her wonderful performance as Vidya, Manoj Bajpai won Best Actor award, while the film itself won the Best Film award in 1999 Filmfare Awards in India. But I think all directing and acting was great.

In some shootouts people were dropping dead and then screaming from pain. The fact that all of a sudden people would burst into 9 minute songs I already mentioned. By the way, the song that gangsters sing when Satya joins them for the first time reminded me a lot in style (I don’t understand the words) of the West Side Story. I loved the overhead shots – like in the final scene of Taxi Driver.

Good memorable movie. Could’ve been shorter though..

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Tags: Crime/Gangster · DVD · Drama · Foreign · India · Movies

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Shaz // Dec 9, 2007 at 12:57 pm

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    Love this film! You gotta watch the whole trilogy which comprises this followed by ‘Company’ and the prequel ‘D’. Also if this genre interests you you could also check out ‘Ab Tak Chappan’, ‘Maqbool’ and ‘Omkara’.

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