Sarkar: If creating awareness about a law that is useful for every citizen was the benchmark of a good movie, Sarkar would get full marks. Before the movie began, we knew almost nothing about Section 49P. Everyone knew a lot about 49O, but Sarkar makes us all aware about the protection given to the voter by the constitution and his/her right to demand a rightful vote under any circumstances. The choice of subject in that regard is laudable.
But, cinema is not about putting across a message, but about telling a story that entertains first and preaches second. Murugadoss seems to have lost sight of that primary aim of cinema- which is to entertain. Sarkar loses no time in getting into the crux of the plot. Within 5 minutes, and a customary intro song that feels like a bite of lemon in a chocolate cake, we are hearing about Section 49P and how a voter always has a right to claim his vote, no matter what. The rest of the first half is about how a citizen can use the law to stop the system from denying him any rights. The dialogues in some portions are quite sharp and interesting. Especially, Vijay’s exchanges with the judge during a court hearing, or his exchanges with Radha Ravi in a couple of scenes bring out some well written lines that drive home some messages. While this legal escalation of events is narrated quite well, we also get the regular commercial elements in the form of songs and fights. In a political mind game where the focus should be on tactical moves and legal aspects, the fights stick out like sore thumbs. The lesser said about the songs the better. One did not expect such amateurish placement of songs in a script from an experienced director like Murugadoss. Having said that, the momentum of the first half is fair enough and sets the stage quite well for the second half.
But, the second half brings us a total change of mood and tenor. Where the first half was about intelligent moves based on provisions of law, the second half becomes more about emotional hollering and calling out to the people. The dialogues in particular become far more theatrical and dramatic into the second half. Murugadoss has used extras generously in many scenes and given them many over the top dialogues. But, he should have been careful enough to make them deliver those lines a believable manner. Instead what we get is people hamming their way in front of camera which brings down the credibility of the proceedings.
There has also been a very visible effort to say at least one line or word abut almost all existing problems in Tamil Nadu at present. Vijay in fact makes a list of all problems in each district of the state. This process of listing problems one by one makes proceedings look artificial. We get it that someone is trying to lead a protest to get good governance, we do not need a newsreel to remind us of everything that we have been hearing for the last 1 year on TV. The second half too suffers from the same problem of fights coming in the way of political mind games. With the stage set for a climax of tactical nous, we get another fight in an empty playground with SUVs and bulldozers ramming against each other. It makes Sarkar look like another regular action movie instead of the political crusade it wants to be.
Sarkar suffers form weak and incomplete characterization, primarily that of the antagonists. The main antagonist for most parts is a 2 time CM looking for a third chance, played with interesting ease by Pazha Karuppaiah. But, the movie does not have a single instance where he is shown to possess the political cunning or nous of someone who has been at the top for so long. He, and his trusted aide Rendu, almost blindly walk into every trap set by the hero. He merely looks like a puppet of his daughter who keeps calling from Canada. That character is very interesting and shows considerable ability to stand up to the hero’s level of planning. But, the problem is that she enters the fray almost too late into the second half and has very little time to make up for things. But, with whatever little screentime she gets, Varalakshmi makes the most. We wish we could have seen more of her character. It has to be said that the casting of antagonists was interesting, and we are left to rue the fact that the characterisation did not match up. Talking of casting, Yogi Babu once again proves that he needs just a scene or even a line to make an impact. Another major member of the cast, Keerthy Suresh, is almost as good as an extra in most scenes. The only time we notice her presence and sit up is during her dance moves in the OMG Pone song. Radha Ravi proves once again that he is a master at playing the corrupt politician even a million times without being repetitive.
Vijay has tried to go outside his comfort zone and delivered some key dialogues in a manner that we have not seen him do before. It works at places but looks a bit artificial at other times. What we always expect from a Vijay movie is electric dance moves. Sarkar disappoints on that front, with the choreography looking pretty dull. Part of that blame must be shouldered by Rahman whose songs never allow any peppy steps. The must overall in Sarkar is a big let down considering it has been done by Rahman. The songs failed to excite fans and the BGM does not create any repeat value, save maybe for the Top Tucker bit.
Fights look choreographed for most parts due to excess slow motions, which is becoming a kid of trend in Tamil cinema these days. The sound department has done quite well, especially in scenes with many extras where you can almost feel the murmur of the crowd.
Sarkar wants to be a political statement. It makes bold references to all contemporary problems, makes obvious references to most political parties and leaders, but it also stops from being a complete political movie, and instead becomes another action entertainer due to commercial compulsions. For all the noble intentions of Murugadoss and team, Sarkar does not consistently entertain, thrill or inspire. It does preach a lot and one does not know how it will go down with audiences.
TalksOfCinema Verdict :Too preachy to entertain, too artificial to inspire!
TalksOfCinema Rating :2.5/5
Sarkar Movie Review Retrospect