Based on the Godfather, Sarkar (2005) is the last in an unique trilogy of films by director Ram Gopal Varma on the Mumbai criminal-political underworld. Satya (1998), the first film in the series, was a new kind of gangster film which hit the theatres when the city was the setting of major gangland warfare in the mid-nineties. Company (2002), its sequel, was a fictionalised tale of the rise of the real-world Mumbai dons Dawood Ibrahim and his understudy Chhota Rajan (Small Rajan), their subsequent split and war with each other, and the criminal-politician nexus which extends to the highest levels of the state. ‘Satya’ is the Gandhian-Ashokan motto of the Indian state, and ‘Company’ signifies the modern firm, but also the earlier form of the colonial state and its commercial empire. ‘Sarkar’ appropriately finishes this trilogy. Literally translated as ‘government’ but also a term of address to superiors in colloquial Hindi, Sarkar is a cognate for Godfather. Amitabh Bacchan plays a character based on the nativist political boss of Mumbai, Balasaheb Thackeray, chief of the Shiv Sena (Army of Shiv), the party machine which still rules Mumbai politics. Sarkar is about the rise and fall of this party and its ruling family. Along with Satya and Company, Sarkar explores the split domains of organised crime and politics in Mumbai, and related themes of business, morality, and the law.
On request, we will also screen either Satya or Company around 6.30 p.m. tomorrow before the main film.