Rating: 2/5 (Two stars)
What’s Good: The raw action; a few scenes with Amitabh Bachchan.
What’s Bad: The ordinary and boring screenplay; the poor video quality and weird camera angles that distract the viewer; the loud background score.
Verdict: Department is a below-average fare.
Watch or Not?: Watch Department only if you are interested in another unconventional film by Ram Gopal Varma.
Ram Gopal Varma Productions, Uberoi Line Productions and Viacom 18 Motion Pictures’ Department is an action thriller about the tug of war going on between the police, gangs and politicians in Mumbai.
When police officer Mahadev Bhosale (Sanjay Dutt) is asked by his bosses to form a hit squad to take on the Mumbai underworld, he recruits Shiv Narayan (Rana Daggubati), an honest and brave police officer who had been suspended for an encounter killing.
Together, Mahadev, Shiv and others in the ‘Department’ take on Sawatya’s (Vijay Raaz) gang. Sawatya, in spite of many exhortations by his number two, D.K. (Abhimanyu Shekhar Singh), and D.K.’s feisty girlfriend, Naseer (Madhu Shalini), does not hit back at the police.
There is another rival gang, lead by one Mohammad Gauri.
There is also the gangster-turned-minister, Sarjerao Gaikwad (Amitabh Bachchan), who takes Shiv under his wing after Shiv saves his life at a public rally. Mahadev warns Shiv that Sarjerao is just using him. After a certain turn of events, it is exposed that Mahadev is actually working for Mohammad Gauri and is, at the ganglord’s behest, finishing off Sawatya’s gang.
While Shiv declines to be a part of Mahadev’s corrupt world, and Mahadev agrees to let him be, things start falling apart between the mentor and the apprentice when Shiv starts taking on a sub-gang formed by D.K., under Mahadev’s protection.
What happens next? Do Mahadev and Shiv come to loggerheads? What about the Sawatya and Mohammad Gauri gangs? What role does Sarjerao play in the final outcome of all this? The rest of the drama answers these questions.
Department Review: Script Analysis
Nilesh Girkar’s story delves into the inner workings of Mumbai’s underbelly but this subject has been handled much better by many other films before. More importantly, besides a few punch-filled dialogues, Girkar’s screenplay offers little new insight into the workings of the underworld or the police-underworld nexus. Besides, the plot is surprisingly devoid of context.
The narrative is riddled with several boring scenes and sequences; especially those with D.K. and Naseer make no sense at all! Yes, the interactions between Sarjerao Gaikwad and Mahadev Bhosale on the one hand and Sarjerao and Shiv Narayan on the other have been well-written, but there is little else to keep the viewer engaged. Action junkies will, of course, find their fill as the drama provides for many fights and gun fights – most of which have been well-executed.
In fact, the screenplay cannot be blamed beyond an extent because of the manner and format in which the film has been shot – on various digital cameras; using unconventional, and often jerky camera movements – which often distract the viewer rather than engage him.
Department Review: Star Performances
Amitabh Bachchan (as Sarjerao Gaikwad) is the pick of the lot; he acts with a swagger as is required of his character of a wily political mastermind. Sanjay Dutt, as Mahadev Bhosale, manages to look earnest enough but he needed to be more mean and menacing. Rana Daggubati, as Shiv Narayan, puts in an earnest effort. He is good in the action scenes and raw in others. His Hindi diction often seems out of place. Vijay Raaz, as Sawatya, performs with gusto but his scenes are, at times, unintentionally funny. Abhimanyu Shekhar Singh, as D.K., hams away to glory. Deepak Tijori, as Dhanajee, is fine. Laxmi Manchu, as Mahadev’s wife Satya, does an alright job. Nathalia Kaur is okay in an item song. Debutante Madhu Shalini fails to impress as D.K.’s moll, Naseer.
Department Review: Direction & Technical Aspects
Ram Gopal Varma’s experimentation breaks the film. What otherwise could have been an average cop thriller is turned into a volley of unconventional shot takings which distract the audience to such an extent that it forgets that there is story going on in the film. The digital quality print, which often means that several frames appear pixellated, is also something that won’t be appreciated by many among the paying public. Unfortunately, Ram Gopal Varma does not focus on narrating the story in an interesting manner; he gets caught up with the unconventional camera and editing techniques.
The music of the film, composed by Dharam Sandeep, Bappa Lahiri and Vikram Nagi, is average. The background score is ear-piercingly loud. Lyrics, penned by Vayu, Shabbir Ahmed and Sandip Singh, are alright. Choreography, by Ganesh Acharya and Shabeena Khan, is passable. Action, by Javed Eijaz, is good.
Department Review: The Last Word
On the whole, Department is a below-average fare that will appeal only to a few audiences who will like the action, in spite of the ordinary script and the irritating narrative style.
Department releases on 18 May 2012.