If Madur Bhandarkar ever decides to document the Bollywood-story modelled on the deserving-rise and predictable-fall of a movie-maker, Ram Gopal Verma would be the ideal candidate to draw authentic shades and fine gradations from.
Because what has happened to the man who gave us crime-classics like Satya, Company and Sarkar is not only startlingly hard to believe but more disturbing is the underlying psyche of the director that a film like Department quite bluntly reveals.
With a tediously convoluted plot that is haphazardly tied together with a boldly experimental style of filming and editing -- Department, for all its technical breakthrough ends with catastrophic results and could go down in history as the most appalling piece of footage ever filmed; in both ways -- the content as well as the treatment.
A plot which deserves no description, Department is vaguely the story of a hot-headed cop enacted by Sanjay Dutt who forms a special squad to get rid of the burgeoning crime rate in the city. His modus-operandi is the now-infamous strategy popularised by veteran cop Daya Nayak which includes bumping-off criminals on the pretext of an encounter. The scheme also includes creating a fake mob-boss who in turn will hire local sociopaths and get them eventually eliminated so as the cumulative number of criminals comes drastically down. The absurdist idea is sponsored and head-honchoed by an eccentric politician-gangster (Amitabh Bachchan in a nasty version of Sarkar) who allots flats in the city at will and has a demeaning habit of cracking jokes he himself doesnt fully grasp.
Sanjay Dutt hand-picks Rana Dagubatti (battling a thick accent) and the two form a superpower which is undefeatable even if you threw hand-grenades on their faces. When they are on their own and run out of bullets, the other magically appears from across and spills blood of the poor-petty thieves all of whom first look menacing and after seeing either of the two, immediately scandalised. After killing a dozen random criminals of superficial gangs (their interests never fully conveyed), they go to their pads and have dinner with the wives- whose only purpose in the movie being counsellors or food-makers.
There is a Vijay Raaz-led gang which mentors two of screen-historys worst-trained actors and sharp-shooters. The girl is especially creepily treated with the camera panning on the twitching of her lips or -- right in between her legs -- yes exactly that. That the actor is outlandishly amateur in her dialogue delivery doesnt boost the films prospects in any manner.
Most of the characters merely speak their lines with no conviction to back it up. And the dialogue is laughably foolhardy. But nothing prepares you for the crime Verma does with Nathalia Kaur. On the pretext of some goonda to be seen at a shady bar, Nathalia is seen battling with her body while the camera caresses every bit of her flesh it can stick to. It's a grossly outrageous number youd have ever laid your eyes on -- plainly inserted to titilate God-knows-who -- and the commodified woman is validation of a murky mentaliy of a once-reverred filmmaker.
The camera in this film has more personality than the film itself and is popularly the title character of the film. It is fitted in unexplored and otherwise impossible territories, which is a great attempt, apart from the fact that it shoots something that doesnt even qualify as a film. It looks as if the equipment entered a theme park which only had dangerous roller-coasters as main attractions and it went on trying every one of them, repeatedly. So you see the screen shift with ridiculous intensity, a non-stop 360 degree turn and random close-ups which make the actors look scarily unflattering. As if these stints werent distracting enough, they are punctuated with an over exaggerated background score and shifting monochromatic screens which totally take your attention away from the already failed attempt at story-telling.
Amid this nightmarishly treated picture where the screenplay fluctuates almost at pace with the summer-salting camera -- theres absolutely nothing other than substandard entertainment of the C-grade variety to endure.
It is puzzling how Verma still manages to get top-notch actors to play parts in his movies and even more puzzling is the fact that he gets in financers. He was known to ensure a riotous crowd at the turnstiles when he came up with his crime sagas, most of them revealing in content extremely well-performed.
Department does absolutely nothing but defame him further as the master of film-killing.